Archived Story

Michael Waldron: The Super Committee

Published 10:57pm Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When I began to write a column for the Niles Daily Star last spring, I resolved to write about a variety of topics. Otherwise, my column could become a repetitive rant. However, in the past six months, I’ve found that it’s difficult not to write about the economy in these historically important economic times. For anybody who is trying to find a job, for anybody who would like to sell a house, for anybody who has watched his or her 401k shrink, I do not need to explain further.
On top of all this bad economic news, Americans have become aware finally that we have spent our national treasure like a drunken sailor.  We awoke in the past year to the pain of a drunken sailor’s hangover.  Unlike a drunken sailor, however, we’ve borrowed more than $14.5 trillion we didn’t have. Drunken sailors everywhere can be proud that at least they didn’t do anything as dumb as that.
In August, the debt crisis became a real political crisis when the government needed to raise the debt limit.  We now know the twists that political crisis took until Congress and the President discovered how to “kick the can” farther down the road by forming a joint committee of Congress, the so-called “Super Committee,” to recommend 1.2 to 1.5 trillion additional dollars in debt reduction by Nov. 23 this year.  Nobody seems to like the idea of a Super Committee. There are good reasons not to like that idea. First, why should 12 congressmen and senators be entrusted to do something the 535 congressmen and senators couldn’t do? Second, is it likely that six Democrats and six Republicans can reach a compromise? Even though it only takes one member of the committee to vote with the other side to report out a compromise to the whole Congress, just imagine the fate of such a brave politician. The pressure from the Democrat and Republican parties on those members will be enormous. His or her political career would be over should he or she cross over the party line.
If those 12 can’t reach a compromise, then an automatic cut of $1.2 trillion will go into effect.  An automatic cut of that amount indicates to me that our whole concept of self-government is under question.  Must we resort to automatic cuts determined by an algorithm?  Can’t we figure what to cut using human judgment?  Most political observers predict we cannot.
My crystal ball indicates that the Super Committee will fail. I don’t believe that the committee will break a six-six tie. What I’d like to see is a real solution to our debt, which must include entitlement reform and tax reform. That won’t happen because the committee will operate under the rules of a political “zero sum” game. In other words, if you win, I lose and vice versa.
The voters of the 6th Michigan Congressional District are very fortunate that Representative Upton sits on the Super Committee that will consider additional cuts to discretionary spending, entitlement reforms and new revenue.  Now is your chance to influence one-twelfth of that committee. If you have an opinion of what to cut, how to reform entitlements, or how to increase revenues, now is the time to make Congressman Fred Upton aware of your concerns.  You can be sure in the next three months that every lobbying group will focus on those 12 members as will members of their political parties.  At least for next three months, those 12 will become extremely popular.
When you write or call, be sure to indicate that you are a voter from Congressman Upton’s district. Long after the flood of e-mails and phone calls from all over the country concerning the work of the Super Committee stop, you will have a vote to cast in November 2012. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Upton will probably be running in our area.  If there is ever a time to follow what our leaders do in Washington, D.C., it is now.

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