The Supercommittee’s Emblematic Failure

After months of negotiations it is now clear that the so-called supercommittee has failed. No one outside of Washington is surprised by this fact. The supercommittee was born out of failure: a failure to lead, a failure to act, and a fundamental failure by politicians more interested in protecting their D.C. niche than in doing what is right.

The supercommittee has come to represent everything that is broken with Washington. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the term become shorthand for the kind of D.C.-centric thinking that has brought us to this point.

The easiest way to explain what is wrong with Washington would be to tell the story of the supercommittee. After years of fiscal irresponsibility by both major parties and many presidents — including the current occupant of the White House, whose reckless multi-trillion-dollar spending spree has endangered our national security — the best they could do was form another committee. Instead of taking the steps necessary to cut spending and fix our tax code, both parties kicked the can down the road and delayed the inevitable.

The supercommittee is a microcosm of Washington. Rather than do the work they were elected to do, Congress punted and left the responsibility in the hands of twelve of their colleagues, while the rest of them sat and waited. Thanks to this, we are now facing either $600 billion in cuts to defense or a minimum $300 billion tax hike.

Conventional wisdom inside the Beltway believed that a grand bargain could be reached if the members were removed from the standard political process. They were wrong. Never underestimate the ability of twelve members of Congress to get absolutely nothing accomplished, outside of raising taxes and growing the government.

But any deal that would have raised taxes or cut defense spending was not a good deal for America. Over the course of the last several decades, there has been entirely too much dealmaking. It is one of the main reasons why America finds itself $15 trillion in debt with a 9 percent unemployment rate.

A dysfunctional process will never produce a positive result. Whether we are talking about the supercommittee or eliminating presidential cufflinks, politicians spend far too much time focusing on sideshows and political posturing rather than addressing the real issues. And the issues we face are deadly serious. If we don’t get spending under control, fix our entitlement programs, and get our economy growing, $15 trillion in debt is quickly going to become $20 trillion and then $30 trillion.

But with the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as the supercommittee co-chair, it was clear from the start we were never going to see any serious spending-reform proposals from the Democrats.

The actions we need to take are not state secrets. We should close tax loopholes and eliminate special-interest deductions, and do so in the context of lowering overall tax rates to reduce compliance costs and make America more competitive. Our main goal has to be economic growth. This will not happen until we cut spending and remove the bureaucratic barriers preventing businesses from expanding and hiring new employees.

There has never been a time in American history when the need for overhauling our tax code and making dramatic spending cuts was more obvious. Watching our national debt breach $15 trillion should have been a wakeup call to both Republicans and Democrats, but the failure of the supercommittee is just more proof that the process in Washington is broken.

The supercommittee was successful in one respect. It once again highlighted how Washington problems can’t be fixed by the same Washington insiders who helped create them in the first place. More than ever, we need leaders willing to make the tough decisions — decisions that may not be politically popular now but ones that are needed to save the country in the long-term.

— Adam Hasner is a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Florida. 

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