For any number of reasons, the so-called Congressional “super committee” was a hoax from the start.
First, it was a way for the general membership of Congress to avoid doing the hard work of making difficult financial decisions. With the general election of 2012 less than a year away, no one wants to be seen as the “bad guy or gal” who tells the difficult truth about profligate spending. With the committee’s failure everyone can say it’s not their fault–the cuts are automatic.
Second, there are undoubtedly many in Congress who are delighted to see it fail. For them this was the hoped-for outcome. Automatic reductions will now be made in projected defense spending. This has caused the Secretary of Defense to sound the alarm bell about national security. (Note the specific language I’ve used: “projected defense spending.” In Washington, a “cut” isn’t really a cut, it’s a reduction in the growth of future spending.)
The thinking citizen can certainly be an advocate for reform in military spending and for the goal of curtailing waste in that spending. But do we really want changes in defense planning to be made automatically, as if there is some sort of financial auto pilot watching out for our national interests? Such difficult decisions are the reason we pay high salaries to our members of Congress, right? So instead of earning their pay they bunt the issue to a committee which is doomed to fail.
Third, the real reason for the committee’s existence is to give the two major parties one more opportunity to beat up each other. Party politics has taken the seat of prime importance in Washington, not defense, and certainly not the desire to cut irresponsible spending.
Heaven help us!