“Super” Failure

It was announced late Monday night that the supercommittee that was formed as part of the debt ceiling compromised reached earlier in the year had failed to come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts from the budget.  So now automatic cuts will take place… most of which are coming from the Defense Department, starting in 2013.  Let me ask you this…  Was anyone really surprised that this “super” committee of 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans couldn’t agree on a deal?

Washington is more polarized than ever.  Even if Party A agrees now with something that Party B said several years ago, Party B won’t agree to it now (and vice versa).  And we also have to contend with the Tea Party factor, too.  You know, the faction of the Republican Party that refuses to compromise on anything and is probably that biggest hindrance on anything being accomplished in the last 2-years because most of them don’t understand how a government truly works.  A government, and most importantly our government, has always been give and take since the beginning.  It’s what created the two chambers of Congress.  It’s what created our financial system and decided where our nation’s new capital would be located.  So why does it seem like no one these days can agree on cutting even the smallest amounts from our federal budget?  What makes compromise such a dirty word in today’s times though it’s basically what formed our nation?  Let us not forget that the Tea Party Republicans were elected in 2010 on their no-compromise platform.  So is this faction of the Republican Party to blame or is it the voting populace that actually voted them into office and believed the drivel they were being fed?

In this particular instance, you had two different ideologies at work against each other, and it basically seemed like failure was going to be the only option from day one as both sides dug in their heals and refused to cooperate.  The Democrats wanted to take away the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2%… something they’ve been hounding on since 2010 (and even as far back as the 2008 elections) and refused to accept any budget cuts until the Republicans agreed to do so. Republicans would only agree to close tax loop-holes but not tax hikes on the upper 2% of the population (who are paying their lowest percentage in income tax since income taxes became legal by the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1913).  It’s the same old story we’ve heard time and time again.  They couldn’t even come to an agreement on smaller things because they couldn’t get over their bigger ideological differences.  I will, however, give some credit to Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA, who is very vocal about not raising taxes, for attempting to bridge the gap though his plan would still fail.  (You can read about the Toomey plan on the Bloomberg Businessweek website by clicking HERE.)

So does this mean that Washington is broken?  The general population tends to think it is.  Afterall, Congress has its lowest approval rating ever at 9%.  To give some bearing to this, President Richard Nixon had a higher approval rating during the height of the Watergate Scandal.  If you were to ask conservative columnist/commentator George Will this exact same question, you would get an entirely different answer.  He has repeatedly said that Washington is not broken.  This is routinely what happens when you have a two party system that have two different ideologies.  Though I respect George Will and see his point, I don’t really agree with him on this.  Yes, this does happen when you have two different political parties with two different ideologies, but throughout our history, we’ve managed to come up with solutions or compromises when our nation has needed it the most.  And yet, now, we can’t even agree to a simple $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.  And to put it into perspective, cutting $1.2 trillion from the federal budget is like taking a crumb from the crust of pie.  It’s basically all smoke and mirrors.  They look like they’re doing something when they are, in fact, doing nothing that would really curtail our rising debt by any significant measures.  And somehow, they still failed at doing nothing.

In August, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US credit rating from AAA to AA+ marking the first time in history that has happened.  It’s main reason for doing so was the political climate in Washington and that the two political sides would not be able to come together to cut our spending and get our budget back under control.  (click HERE for report)  Our political leaders immediately screamed foul and pledged to get the deal done to prove S&P wrong and show the world that we were on top of things.  As it turns out S&P was right and maybe we earned that downgrade in our credit rating.  Washington doesn’t seem to want to solve our problems… just fight amongst themselves and stick to their political ideology rather than do what is needed for our country and for our future.

So what happens now?  S&P has already announced they won’t downgrade our credit rating over the failure to reach a deal, so I guess that is some good news.  Any budget cuts or tax increases the committee would have reached would not have gone into effect until 2013, so there is still time for Congress to dwindle the amount of cuts or eliminate the cuts completely… though President Obama is standing firm on those automatic cuts by saying that he will veto any legislation sent from Congress that takes away the automatic cuts that were part of the debt-ceiling compromise.  As for the general public in America, they need to wake up and realize that this is a bigger problem.  The voters are just as divided as the members of Congress are… which isn’t helping shed any light on the issue.  There are going to have to be major budget cuts (even more than 4-trillion) to get things back on track, and, sadly, taxes will have to be raised as well as other forms of revenue.  We can be somewhat creative in this approach though.  I have seen one Congressman suggest legalizing medical marijuana and taxing it.  Regardless, we as Americans are going to have to change how we are looking at this particular subject and what its really going to take to get us out of it.  The situation is only going to get worse.  If we don’t get a handle on this, major budget cuts are going to become massive budget cuts.  Our infrastructure that is already falling apart will be completely out of reach of being repaired.  And as for those politicians on any side of the aisle that think compromise is a dirty word, they need to be voted out of office and taught a little bit of American history.  (Sadly, most of them will probably win reelection in 2012 or beyond.)  We need to be electing officials that are will to compromise… not just give in.  Both sides should be working through their different ideologies rather than just cementing their feet into the ground and refusing to budge.  Compromise is part of the fabric of our nation.  It has made us the super-power that we are today.   And it is time that we bring the term ‘compromise’ back into the congressional dictionary and back into the light.  Only then will our elected officials and the people of this country be able to tackle this major issue.  We have the ability to do it.  We are Americans, afterall.  Now let’s get it done before the real clock does run out.  It is still ticking down.

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