One other point about the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. I am afraid that the impending specter of that committee will cause Congress to stop doing its job (to the extent that Congress has been doing its job) and simply wait to see what the Joint Select Committee comes up with.
I hope the Republicans in the House of Representatives, at least, reject that do-nothing approach and put their money where their mouth is. They’ve talked bravely about cutting federal spending. I hope that they move forward and cause the House of Representatives to do what Congress is supposed to do: hold hearings, take testimony, and make legislative decisions through the proposal and amendment of bills, one program and one agency at a time. One of the problems with the debt ceiling compromise is that it locks in already inflated spending and programs that we may not be able to afford during this time of huge deficits. I would rather see targeted, carefully considered cuts, arrived at transparently in committee meetings held after open hearings, than some kind of blunderbuss, across-the-board approach that affects all programs equally.
Let’s see the House Republicans play some “small ball” and decide whether, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration programs for funding advertising campaigns against drunk driving and in favor of seat belt use should continue to be funded. I’d rather we eliminated entire non-essential programs that Congress decides we can’t afford in the current budget climate, with the corresponding reduction in the federal payroll, than see programs that help the truly disadvantaged or fund crucial defense efforts suffer unthinking reductions.