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?