The Super Committee


I’m sure that all of you have heard about the near crisis that took place this summer when the United States almost defaulted on over 14 trillion dollars worth of debt. In order to avoid this from happening, President Obama signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 on August 2nd, which increased the debt limit by $400 billion and for the moment, halted this potential crisis. However, this increase can only put a temporary band-aid on our debt problem, and many people are not aware of some of the other major things that were part of this bill.

Arguably the most important part of this act was that it created the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (sometimes referred to as the “super committee”), which has been charged with solving our ever-worsening debt problem. The committee was appointed on August 10th and consists of twelve members of Congress, six from the House of Representative and six from the Senate. The committee is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and has one major goal: to develop a plan by November 23rd, 2011 that reduces the government’s spending by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

From the outset, this may not seem too bad, right? We have some of the best economists in our government from both sides of the political spectrum working to develop a government reduction plan in which they are allowed to raise taxes, eliminate tax breaks, cut military spending and slow the growth of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. However, there has been plenty of criticism from prominent people that are unhappy with the committee’s responsibilities. Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was quoted as saying “we’re unfairly putting the pressure of an entire nation’s future on twelve people, who have four months to solve decades worth of problems. Economist R.W. Sanders said “we’re simply giving an unelected committee the power to effectively run our nation’s economy for the next generation.”

As I examined some of these quotes, many questions came to my mind about whether this process is being handled properly by our government. For one, do you think that the general populous should have been able to elect the six officials that are representing each respective political parties? Is it even possible for a committee with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats to put aside their economic views to solve one of the most pressing problems in our nation’s history? Even if they are able to make compromises on core issues, is four months enough time to make $1.5 trillion vanish over the next ten years?

Additionally, the “super committee” has kept their negotiations behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. There has been very little information made available to the general public regarding where these budget cuts will come from and if in fact any progress has been made at all. Is it fair to keep so many hard working Americans in the dark during these negotiations? How do you all feel about allowing an unelected committee of twelve officials to lay the foundation for our country’s economic future?

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4 Comments on “The Super Committee”

  1. parijog Says:

    Debt is bad. That is one thing we all can agree on. The precise measures through which this debt can be reduced is another story. Thus far, squabbling over this topic has led to a lot of noise and not a lot of action. I see the super committee as an effector system through which real progress can be made to reverse our snowballing debt. The appointed committee members working in relative secrecy will be able to work much more quickly than an election for a group that has to get every decision scrutinized by the entire nation. While it is certainly un-democratic to allow these appointed individuals so much control over our nation’s future, it is much more important to focus on resolving this debt crisis, so that this nation can continue to exist, so much as be democratic.

  2. ianbaker2041 Says:

    I like this post. The Debt Committee was a huge deal when it came out this summer because one of the Republicans on it, Fred Upton, is my congressman. He’s been in the House for a long time serving southwest Michigan, so people there were very happy that he got selected.

    I think that saying that they’re “unelected” misses the point completely. To be sure, these are elected officials. We voted for them to represent us, and if they are appointed to serve on something like this, we trust that they will remember our votes when they enter talks about how to resolve the debt crisis. Sure, they may not have been elected to this position, but each of those members was elected to either the House or the Senate by his or her constituents; that’s good enough for me. If we were to vote on EVERY single appointment in the government, then we wouldn’t have much time for anything else. Imagine if every American had to vote on who joins what committee in the House and Senate. Imagine if we had to hear impeachments and joint sessions. We have a representative democracy to prevent us from spending all that time on politics so that we can focus on other things in our lives. I can’t see a reason why we should “elect” people to serve on the Debt Committee. We’ve elected them to Congress already; that should be enough.

    One thing that bothers me about the Debt Committee is the fact that we are placing so much of America’s economy in the hands of men who don’t understand economics well enough to solve these issues. While I understand why the bill called for members of the House and Senate to sit down and figure this stuff out, it seems that a more prudent option would have been to use economists or someone else with significant market experience so that we can avoid making rushed or ill-conceived decisions for America. I don’t think it’s excessive to ask our Congressmen to make such weighty decisions, but it is foolish to ask such a group to do it because they just aren’t the best people to make decisions on the economy.

    As to actually resolving the debt: I’m cautious to make any statements about it since we know so little of what is actually going on. Both parties have historically come together at the 11th hour to prevent government shutdowns and fiscal collapse, but the compromises usually leave both parties feeling left out and leave voters angry. For example, Republicans and Democrats have both been forced to combine spending cuts and tax hikes, something which neither party likes. Money issues in government have become like a game of chicken; both sides want to “stay the course” as long as possible so that neither side’s supporters see it as “weak.” Because both parties care more about their image than getting work done, major issues are put on the back burner until the critical moment when something MUST be done to prevent massive problems. I fear that a similar situation will arise here; both parties will disagree until the final moment. At that time, they will compromise on things and come up with a rushed agreement that doesn’t fully address the problem.

  3. emmaschneider11 Says:

    I was actually in D.C. at the time that the Budget Control Act was being discussed, and I sat in on a session of the House where solutions were being debated. To be honest, it didn’t seem like a lot was getting accomplished. The democrats and republicans were going back and forth arguing lie children about issues that were not even central to the dilemma. They obviously came to a conclusion and came up with the plan involving the Super Committee, but the bit I experienced seemed ineffective.

    Im not so sure how effective this committee will be. They have a huge job in from of them, with many complications and limited time. I don’t think it is possible for the greatest economists currently alive to come up with an effective plan what will please everyone, even if they had an unlimited amount of time. I don’t see how a group with only a few months and deep-rooted opposing economic views will manage to come up with a plan to resolve the debt crisis in the next ten years.

    Granted, this is a start, and it is better than nothing. The national debt problem is a giant problem, and it will take a giant, long term and probably in some ways unpleasant solution. I sincerely hope that the super committee can find this solution, but I highly doubt it given the obstacles they face.

  4. kaitlinlapka Says:

    Only 20 more days! In my opinion, this type of pressure is outrageous. I agree with what Sanders and Paul had to say. I wonder how they are doing now? Anyone know updates?

    I agree with this statement from the post: “Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was quoted as saying ‘we’re unfairly putting the pressure of an entire nation’s future on twelve people, who have four months to solve decades worth of problems’. Economist R.W. Sanders said ‘we’re simply giving an unelected committee the power to effectively run our nation’s economy for the next generation.'”

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