Substandard Options for the Super Committee
With just seven days before the so-called “super committee” is supposed to report a plan that reduces future deficits by at least $1.2 trillion, lawmakers are looking for a bailout. The fallback ideas range from pure gimmickry to downright destructive. Here is the state of play:
Republicans on the “super committee” have been adamant they are negotiating in good faith and that their Democrat counterparts have not presented a counter-offer to their proposal to raise taxes by roughly $300 billion (an offer House Speaker Boehner (R-OH) described as “fair”). Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the top “super committee” Republican, said yesterday Republicans were “more than happy to negotiate” with the Democrats, so long as they “put fundamental reform on the table.” In that context, The Hill reports “super committee” Democrats have made four demands of Republicans:
- Drop demand to lower and extend tax rates
- Drop demand to increase Medicare eligibility age
- Drop demand to use the chained Consumer Price Index to calculate entitlement and tax benefits
- Include more stimulus-style spending to make “a real investment in jobs”
With “super committee” Democrats seeking a $1 trillion tax increase, POLITICO reports Republicans are “pondering potential fallback plans, including moving legislation that would most likely cut less than $1.2 trillion but softens the blow of the mandated cuts.” Republicans may even try to package spending cuts with “must-pass measures like unemployment insurance to sweeten the deal for Democrats and President Barack Obama.” Although the Obama administration considers unemployment insurance to be one of the most effective types of stimulus, The Heritage Foundation points out extended unemployment benefits are not an effective stimulus or a good use of taxpayer dollars.
As National Journal (sub. req’d) reported yesterday, the “super committee” is planning a public mark-up “next week in which the text of a debt-reduction agreement would be discussed and any amendments or rewrites openly debated, according to sources with direct knowledge of committee activities.” It would allow the 12 lawmakers “to individually go on the record with support, objections, and otherwise explain their positions on aspects of any deal — even if they ultimately join in voting to send the package on to the entire Congress.”
Time is running out. The deadline for “super committee” action is midnight Wednesday, November 23. A majority – 7 of 12 – members must support the product or the automatic cuts (i.e. sequestration) will be ordered. Tightening the timeline though, is a requirement that the “super committee” must have a Congressional Budget Office estimate in hand two days before voting on a proposal. Of course, the sequestration would not take effective until January 2, 2013 so Congress would have ample time to alter the law.
It’s a muddled mess, but have no fear because Heritage Action will keep you up to date with the latest from the “super committee.”