Although Congress has been enjoying its August recess, the staffs of the members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — the so-called “Super Committee” — have been hard at work. The Committee itself will begin meeting soon. So, what’s the prognosis for whether the Super Committee can get the deficit reduction job done?
If you have a coin, flip it — because you can find just about every opinion on this topic, from foolish optimism to bleak pessimism, if you look hard enough. Some people think the structure of the Super Committee and the ability to send any plan that gets majority support directly to the House and Senate floors means that the Super Committee is likely to succeed, whereas others predict, with equal confidence, that the Super Committee will fail.
What’s interesting, and discouraging, about the spectrum of opinions is that they all seem to be based on the kind of “inside baseball” political analysis that most of us find bizarre and infuriating. No one seems to think that the members of the Super Committee will come to the table ready to reach a significant deal that achieves honest, meaningful deficit reduction because America needs that result. Even the optimists apparently think that, if a deal is reached, it will be because Republicans and Democrats will conclude that a deal is the best result for Republicans and Democrats, and not because that result is best for the country.
Have we reached the point where our politicians can never lay aside partisanship and recognize that, if they don’t take effective action soon, this country will be brought to its knees? I think that terrible reality may be the case — which is why I am in the pessimists’ camp on the likely outcome of the Super Committee and its deliberations.