A simple statement from the two co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. “After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”
And, they continued, “despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve. We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.”
But let’s be clear about this statement, the committee, and Congress itself. This represents a failure to govern. There is a structural inability to make difficult choices about what the country needs to do to finance its operations. The so-called supercommittee is no different than the country and its citizenry. We are divided, locked into a struggle with significant differences about what to do next.
Some of us believe that we should balance two competing ideas: We should invest in jobs. Now. Again. And keep doing that until everyone who wants a jobs has access to one. Then, and only then, the government should begin a long-term strategy of rethinking promises made through entitlement programs.
The other view says cut government now. Shrink government, period. Don’t raise a single dime in new taxes – and let the economy grow again (after it crashes).
Now we will read over the coming weeks and months about the tragedy of automatic budget cuts as the real numbers surface. Some will complain about how much smaller our military must become. Others will note the deep unfairness in cutting domestic programs that serve people who are at the lowest end of the economic spectrum. The president has already promised to veto any bills that try to get around the automatic budget cuts.