The deadline of November 23 for the Super Committee is just another looming ticking clock, courtesy of the GOP, that would ordinarily signal big trouble. After all, we all know how easily the Republicans will put the entire country on the chopping block in order to get what they want. While Senator Kyl (R-Ariz.) has already threatened to take his toys and go home if defense cuts are put on the Super Committee table, he can’t really do that this time. Neither can anyone else in the GOP.
If the Super Committee fails to find the trillion in spending cuts, other cuts will automatically kick in. And these cuts will not make the GOP happy at all. Why? Well, if they don’t come up with cuts, 1.2 trillion in spending cuts divided evenly between defense and non-defense spending will automatically kick in. Also, Medicaid and Social Security are exempt. That’s a trigger even a Republican can’t love.
Cue the hysterics about Socialism.
The Super Committee put in place to find 1.5 trillion dollars in spending cuts was the result of Republicans unprecedented temper tantrum over raising the debt ceiling and insisting on, for the first time, tying the deficit to raising the debt ceiling. The Super Committee has until November 23 to draft a proposal for the spending cuts.
Sure, this was odd behavior for a party whose own fiscal failings landed us in debt, with two wars on a credit card and an unfunded Medicare Part D Drug program all while implementing the Bush tax cuts (hello recession and debt), but the Republican Party suffers from an inability to moderate themselves and so they naturally project this onto others. And also, there’s the whole Party of No thing.
But obstruction can only work for so long, and short-term strategizing doesn’t win wars.
The Republican Party has kicked and screamed its way into a tight spot, after being given what they asked for during their debt ceiling tantrum. Now they have to come up with cuts.
Here’s the list of the twelve members on the Super Committee, courtesy of the Center for Responsive Politics:
• Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee
• Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
• Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Senate Democrat’s conference secretary and chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
• Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the Senate Minority Whip
• Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), the former president of the conservative Club for Growth
• Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), the former head of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush
• Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
• Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
• Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the conference chair of House Republicans
• Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the House Assistant Minority Leader
• Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the ranking Democratic member of the House Budget Committee
• Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee
As I wrote earlier on this subject, on the Super Committee we have we have “two Republican senators from states that rank among the highest in the nation on military spending (Kyl in Arizona, Toomey in Pennsylvania) and one House Republican in South Carolina (dependent on military spending as well). The Democrats aren’t immune from defense spending. However, we don’t hear Democrats saying cuts must come from “entitlement” programs like Social Security in order to defend some defense spending.”
Defense entitlements aren’t just about donations, they’re really about the economy for those who serve districts heavily supported by defense spending. When Republicans say government can’t create jobs, they don’t really mean that. They are perfectly happy to use the government to create military/defense jobs in their districts. They just don’t want that money going to “green jobs” or other “Democratic” ideas. Apparently Republicans are more than happy to let the Chinese dominate in industries such as manufacturing solar panels, leaving America in the technological dust of their ideology.
Sure, the Republicans will come up with something else to hold over America’s head; but they can’t threaten default. That little toy was taken away from them. They can’t even quit the Super Committee because of the committee’s charter. Someone involved in drafting the Super Committee charter knew exactly with whom they were dealing; if Kyl really had taken his toys and gone home, the Republicans would have had 14 days to find a replacement. If they were unable to twist anyone’s arm to be on the committee, Democrats would be left with a majority. The House can’t rule by tyranny of the majority this time either.
And now they have something hanging over their heads: Defense cuts.
Welcome to a slightly more level playing field.