This week is supposed to be a crucial one for the deficit-reduction supercommittee. This morning’s newspapers are full of stories about whether or not the sequester will go into effect, and whether or not an agreement will be reached. According to these stories, lawmakers have concerns about what the supercommittee will come up with if an agreement is reached, and fears about the spending cuts that may take place if the supercommittee fails. But these fears are misplaced.
It’s not that there aren’t many reasons to be worried. We should worry. But our worry should be that the supercommittee, whether it succeeds or fails, won’t address our long-term fiscal problems, and that focusing on the supercommittee will take our attention away from what really needs to happen to put this country back on more solid fiscal ground. Here are a few reasons:
So yes, we should be worried. In fact, we should be incredibly worried that Congress goes from a debt-ceiling crisis to a government-shutdown crisis and yet still resists addressing our real fiscal problems. Obviously, with only ten days left, there isn’t time for the supercommittee to do fundamental entitlement or tax reform. But it could do things like reducing the corporate-income-tax rate, block-granting Medicaid (which doesn’t mean cutting spending on health care for poor people), raising the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security, or ending corporate welfare (no more giving money to private companies to help them run their private profit-making businesses). Those steps wouldn’t solve all of our problems, but they would be steps in the right direction.