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Can the Super-Committee appoint a Super-Dooper-committee?

©Ed Stein

Commentary by Ed Stein

It appears that the supercommittee isn’t any more super than the weak-kneed Congress that created it in the first place. With the deadline fast approaching for the group of twelve to agree on how to cut/raise $1.2 trillion, the likelihood is they won’t agree on anything except a cowardly formula for kicking the can down the road, if they can even agree on that. If they come up empty, an equal likelihood, Congress is already starting to signal that it might find ways to spare the defense budget the automatic cuts that are supposed to take place without an agreement, and you can be sure the other cuts will also be on the block, meaning the whole thing was an exercise in futility, the one thing this Congress has excelled at. I find myself in the awkward position of praising Newt Gingrich, of all people, who’s the only one of the presidential candidates, Republican or Democratic, with the courage to ridicule both parties for the creation of this Frankenstein’s monster, and for their failure to do the jobs they were elected to perform. If he’s the lone voice of sanity, we are in deep, deep trouble.

We don’t need Superciliousman. We need determined, dedicated and hardworking Clark Kents but with backbones. Too many crooks spoil the super.
– Iron Filing



  1. Arthanyel wrote:

    I posted a lengthy item about the Republican “offer” on an earlier thread. I do think, however, that the idea of having the super committee was not a “Frankenstein’s monster” – it was. Brilliant idea that isn’t working.

    The brilliance was not in the committee – it was in setting it up so that what comes out gets a straight up or down vote in both houses. That, is, I think, the ONLY way a package of real reforms can be passed. It kills the filibuster and would allow moderate Republicans in the House to team with Democrats and pass something with the necessary tax increases.

    Things are looking grim, but there is still hope – the committee could decide to just take the Simpson-Bowles plan and put it to a vote, or the Gang of Six plan, and they just might get passed.

    But smart money says they are going t fail again and that the 2012 election will be framed as a referendum on which unilateral approach the people want – Republican or Democrat. And God help us, because neither unilateral approach is right and the chance that either party will win unstoppable control of everything is extremely remote. And we can’t afford another 3 years of gridlock.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink
  2. Don wrote:

    The super committee idea was based on a broken premise: that Republicans could see the problems this country is facing clearly enough to overcome their head in the sand attitude on taxes and effectively meet current and future revenue needs while chopping the budget back to a more reasonable level. They have once again proven themselves to be so anal retentive on the tax issue that they apparently cannot begin to accept that there may be other perspectives that have positive, national benefits. And, yes, I finger the Repubs for being the problem. They are and have been in control of Congress for years – even when the Dems had a majority. They have created the miasma that Washington politics has become. Sure, the Dems have sat on their hands and deserve a small piece of the blame, but the overt and covert actions of the GOPers is, to me, clearly the root of the evil I now detest in DC.

    The expected moves to spare the military budget the agreed to cuts from the original agreement also underscores that Republicans (and all too often Dems) carry the opinion that the military budget is sacrosanct. It is the biggest cash-cow that can be milked for local districts pig in a poke projects without someone raising the stink of them being pork barrel actions. We continue to act like we’re in an arms race with someone. We aren’t. They act like we’re being militarily threatened by organized outside armed forces. We aren’t. We are the county doing the threatening. We have military installations in, I believe, over 100 countries and we continue to mine opportunities to create more (witness the recent agreement with Kuwait). It’s as if we are preparing for another world war in which it’s everyone (expect Australia, Canada, and England) against us. That is truly how big the military budget is. Billions of dollars of weapons systems under development that even the Pentagon doesn’t believe we need. Argh!!!!!!!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  3. Arthanyel wrote:

    @Don – America needs to have the strongest and best military in the world, but we can do it for a lot less than we are currently spending. Do we really need 50,000 soldiers (half the number we have in Afghanistan) in Germany, for example?

    The knee jerk defense of defense spending is all about bribes and money spent in individual Congressperson’s districts, not actual military need. That said, it is critical we continue to build on our huge advantage in smart weapons, and that we maintain (and increase) our direct support of the actual soldiers. Right now we have the best men and women in uniform on the planet, and we need to keep it that way. But we can do without extra aircraft carriers, extra engines for the new planes, and we can tool up to fight the current and future conflicts (where speacial forces and smart weapons predominate) and tool down from fighting WW2 again.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink
  4. Don wrote:

    As far as the knee jerk response to military spending, I think you and I are pretty much on the same page. I agree. That’s what I was trying to say in my discussion about the funneling of Federal dollars to individual congressperson’s districts as being a way to get past the pork barrel project label.

    I also agree that we need to provide the best training and equipment, within reason, for our service members. They’re being put on the line and we owe it to them to do so, especially because we, as a country, are directing them into harms way in the service of questionable goals based on flimsy moral and ethical decisions. As long as the American role is to be the world’s policemen, that is. I don’t believe that is a role that we should assume will be ours into the distant future and I’m not talking about the move in recent years to get our “allies” to act as our proxies.

    I was born in 1950. We, as a country, officially and clandestinely, have been in armed conflict for virtually my entire life and a goodly percentage of those conflicts were of our own making and choosing – at least we didn’t exercise the power of the strongest nation on earth to act as mediator or neutral. We seem to have to have a stake in virtually every conflict anymore. There is something terribly wrong with that picture. We are creating a warrior class which is being placed on a pedestal and used to justify the continued pouring of almost $1 trillion a year into military pursuits.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  5. Don wrote:

    Just to dump a little more fuel on my fire, I just heard that Australia has agreed to let us station Marines there. WTF for?

    Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink
  6. ebdoug wrote:

    Don: The military gives people jobs and training. It is a welfare institution. We fund the military welfare institution with our tax dollors. So many who would not have jobs anywhere else are in this welfare program. Low pay, low benefits, free job training. And the jobs cannot be shipped done by China but can still be shipped overseas.
    Think of a nursing home that spends more of out tax dollars to provide better care to the elderly. This is true welfare in action. Your untrained get a little training and go at it. We keep people employed, spending creating more jobs, and our elderly get better care.

    Here is your super super man. He was in full outfit earlier:

    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 6:27 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Filing wrote:

    EBDOUG – I was a little uncomfortable with “it is a welfare institution” on first read. On second read I got your point that the military does serve that function in addition to other also important roles.
    Imagine what the unemployment rate would be without the military! I often find my response (especially emotional response) changes on second or even third reads of the original post or comment.

    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink
  8. ebdoug wrote:

    I have sarcasm in my posts. I’m a flaming liberal. People are much better off mentally if they have jobs. I did 7000 tax returns before I retired. The ones without jobs are depressed.

    Obama in Chicago tried to bring jobs to the housing developments. The factories were created…….an hour away from the housing developments.

    Once health insurance leaves the work place, goods in this country can be produced much cheaper. Bring back the jobs, create quality goods here.

    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    A military career is far from economically sound. Most soldiers fare poorly. Only those in the upper echilons who can get good jobs afterwards do well. How many AA specialists or tank gunners does the public sector need?

    Friday, November 18, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink
  10. Arthanyel wrote:

    The super committee is about to announce failure. It is truly unimaginable, as this was the only chance to get a real deal rather than pure politics. Because if the super committee was able to get anything out (and they could have started with the Gang of Six, or the Simpson-Bowles plans) then they would have gone to an un-amended, straight up vote with no filibusters in both houses. That was the ONLY chance to get anything reasonable passed, because otherwise any real deal would be killed by the extremists in each party.

    But now it is clear the extremists are in full control, which we guessed when we saw the appointments to the committee in the first place. It is possible that either the Gang of Six or the Simpson-Bowles plan could win a slim majority; there is no chance that any plan one party’s leaders want will make it.

    That said, it is also clear that it is the Republicans who are not negotiating in good faith. Everyone knows that real solutions will require more revenue. Every credit agency, every foreign country and bank, and every non-partisan economist are in complete agreement on that – a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts is NECESSARY. So as long as Republicans follow the Norquist “starve the beast” plan and refuse to raise revenues under any circumstances, there is NO SOLUTION.

    I am very afraid of what the Democrats would do if given an unstoppable majority, but I am sure that giving the Republicans one would be nothing less than the destruction of the country. If Republicans gain full control, they will cut taxes further on the rich, raise taxes on the middle class and the poor, eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and the safety net programs, and unwind every clean air, water, and social protection to give their corporate masters unlimited freedom to make this country look like Somalia. And I for one will do everything humanly possible to prevent that.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink
  11. rk wrote:

    I don’t see why failure of the super committee is surprising. It is set up evenly controlled by two parties, one who won’t negotiate and the other who cannot negotiate. All along, the default outcome was the only possibility.

    Sunday, November 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink