Americans across the political spectrum can agree on one thing: Congress is ineffective and dysfunctional.
The recent dismal failure of the much-ballyhooed Super Congress is just another example of their inability to govern. Last August Congressional Republican gamesmanship forced a downgrading of the US credit rating when they dragged their feet on raising the US debt ceiling– an exercise that had been repeated several times by the Congress in the past.
Republicans like Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, and Arizona’s own Jeff Flake were all over the news– insisting on cuts to entitlement program (cuts to the 99%) rather than raising taxes on the wealthy or cutting corporate welfare (cuts to the 1%); part of the final deal was the creation of the Super Committee. They also railed against Obama’s stimulus package and stood against any attempt by the President to put American’s back to work. (And they wonder why the Occupy movement spread like wildfire across our cities and towns just weeks after the debt ceiling fiasco?)
The failure of the Super Committee to reach a deal by their Nov. 23, 2011 deadline will trigger automatic spending cuts (a Republican idea) beginning in 2013 (conveniently scheduled for the next Congress to deal with). President Obama said he will veto any Congressional attempt to roll back the cuts; after all, Republicans made a big deal last summer about how they strong-armed the President into the debt ceiling deal, the necessity of the massive cuts, and the creation of the Super Committee. Now let them live with the consequence of their ideology.
The failure of the Super Committee will bring cuts to education, cuts to military spending, and cuts to unemployment insurance– just to name a few. If Congress doesn’t act in the next few weeks, 1.8 million Americans will lose their benefits in January 2012. (That will tank the economy for sure.)
From the Huffington Post…
Beginning in 2013, the federal government faces two oncoming trains. When the supercommittee was unable to find agreement by Wednesday, it triggered spending cuts of $1.2 trillion starting in January 2013 and extending over 10 years. Half of the cuts would come from defense spending, the other from education, agriculture and environmental programs, and, to a lesser extent, Medicare.
At the same time, tax cuts adopted during the presidency of George W. Bush will expire at the end of 2012, meaning an increase for every taxpayer.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would “tear a seam in the nation’s defense.”
Meanwhile, the tax increases would hit a still-fragile economy, endangering a recovery and raising prospects of another recession.
But while neither side wants those outcomes, Washington’s recent history of tackling fiscal problems shows Congress does not act unless faced with a dire deadline. It extended Bush-era tax cuts in 2010 just days before they expired, it avoided a government shutdown by hours and it put off a debt crisis this summer in the face of a government default.
Not surprisingly, the current Congressional approval rating is at a dismal 9%– dead even with American’s approval rating of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Congress is so unpopular that the Internal Revenue Service (40%), BP at the height of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill crisis (16%), and the idea of Communism taking over the US (11%) are more popular than the Do-Nothing Congress.
The US is in a financial crisis… thanks to Wall Street gamblers, thanks to Congress’ insistence on extending tax cuts we can’t afford, thanks to corporations sending good-paying jobs overseas, thanks to growing wealth disparity, thanks to runaway healthcare costs, thanks to the disappearance of the middle class, thanks to widespread poverty in the richest country in the world…
As the US population ages, our current financial crisis will pale in comparison to our impending public health crisis.
Congress needs to get to work. In poll after poll, the people have said they want a balanced approach– spending cuts + revenue increases– to balancing the budget. Super Committee members like Arizona Senator Jon Kyl should be ashamed of themselves– putting ideology and protection of the 1% ahead of the welfare of Americans.
Funny how silent Cantor, Ryan, Boehner, and Flake have been lately.