Opinion: Voters Need to Hold 'Not So Super Committee' Accountable

Friday, November 18, 2011 - 02:32 PM

Members of the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee participate in a hearing October 26, 2011 (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images/Getty)

Maybe certain mild-mannered members of Congress will reveal their capes, leap into the air and prove to us they are worthy of the title Super Committee. More likely, though, the days ahead will bring us, in bipartisan spirit, stalemate, accusations and frustration. By Thanksgiving, there will be countless jokes about the biggest turkeys in Washington, and relatively little about this deficit-reduction distraction to be genuinely thankful for.

Some of my compatriots on the left would suggest that no deal is the best deal we could get. The Republican Party, in the thrall of Tea Party extremism, is choosing among presidential candidates who all agree that a 10-to-1 cuts-to-revenue budget deal would have been unacceptable. In that climate, there is no way that Party's delegation on the Super Committee will consider a rational approach to closing the deficit while ensuring basic services and promoting investment in America.

And if the conservatives won't give an inch, the thinking goes, the best we can hope for is that the Democrats stand their ground. Tired of the game of seeing Dems go halfway on deals only to be left standing alone in the middle, progressives are hoping to avoid a repeat of that worn scenario. If the right won't deal, no deal is better than the left out-negotiating itself.

If this likely trajectory plays out, the nine percent of Americans who approve of the job Congress is doing may need to reconsider. Congress backed itself into a corner and then set a booby trap it can't defuse.

The strangest part is that it's not clear what constituency would want its elected to act differently. I understand that Tea Partiers don't want their reps to deal. I don't want Democrats to fold and allow worse cuts. So while we're all disappointed in the outcome, we're not going to hold our side accountable and we have no say over the other side.

There is always the chance that some common ground will be found around savings everyone can agree upon. In the Republican primary, you hear candidates talk of bringing home our troops, ending subsidies that distort the free market and even making GE pay its taxes. Please, GOP, claim those issues and we'll all be on the same team.

But if we can't find sensible areas of agreement, then I would rather see a stalemate over jobs vs. cuts than another capitulation. I would rather see us go to the mat on the 1 percent vs the 99 percent than be the authors of bad policy. So while I may be in the 91% that thinks Congress isn't doing its job, I'm also in that population that may think not doing their job is the best we're going to get right now.

Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."


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Comments [2]

I'm not holding my breath that "there is always the chance that some common ground will be found around savings everyone can agree upon," by this so-called Super Committee. We have a dysfunctional Congress. There isn't any elected politician on Capitol Hill that has the answers to fix the problems for the mess our nation is in. They seem very complacent pointing fingers across the aisles in Congress and down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Their sights are set on the national elections. So, it's simply business as.

Nov. 20 2011 02:44 PM

Dear Mr. Krebs;

As I've noted before, Congress has done exactly what it wanted to do. Setting up the 'Super Committee' was nothing more than another way of putting off decisions while [perhaps] adding yet another report to those already on the dusty shelves of the archivist. And if no report was tendered, the 'sequestration'* event could be defused in plenty of time to avoid any actual cuts in areas that might significantly affect votes [or campaign ‘contributions‘.]

A nice turn of phrase, germane in that it encapsulates Congress's Baedeker to re-election, is:

'It's not whether you win or lose, but where you place the blame that matters.'**

* I'm always amused by the tagging of a political issue with a word or phrase that is then used ad nauseam.

** Though I searched, I cannot find an original attribution for this gem.

Nov. 19 2011 12:49 PM

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