As the infamous “Defecit-Reduction Super-Committee” nears the Thanksgiving deadline, the Republicans have already stepped to the plate, while Democrats are still playing games.
If the Committee does not come to up with a mutually agreed upon (equal concessions from both sides of the aisle) set of $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next 10 years, then “automatic” cuts will be triggered–with half cut off the top of defense spending and the other half cut off the top of entitlement program spending, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
Currently, Defense spending runs about $711 billion per year; but, back in August, Congress made a deficit reduction deal with President Obama to cut at least $450 billion from the defense budget over 10 years.
While on his trip to South Korea today, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced his department’s budget cuts, saying “It would involve a five-year budget, which is normally what we would present … [that] would represent probably somewhere around $250 or $260 billion of the $450 billion that we’re required to reduce,” according to a FOXNews.com article today.
Panetta has said that the $450 billion in cuts won’t jeopardize national security, but he warned U.S. lawmakers earlier this month that any more than that would.
He also said this level of cuts would involve weapons systems made in U.S. factories–indicating they would eliminate precious manufacturing jobs. “To accomplish this will require that we navigate through some very perilous political waters…” Panetta said the Defense Department budget would be presented to Congress in February.
Now, as to progress on the other side of the aisle, a FOXNews.com article today reported that on Wednesday, at the end of a Super Committee hearing, Democrats ‘suggested’ that too much has already been cut from non-defense spending to come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years.
Author’s note: The national debt is currently at $14.7 trillion, with the so called debt-ceiling deal allowing for another $1.2 trillion to be added this fiscal year, plus the fiscal year deficit, will likely bring the total to $17.1 trillion by Inauguration Day in January 2013…and Democrats are struggling to find just $1.2 trillion over the next ten years?
Some other sources offered a few details about a Democratic proposal to collect $1.3 trillion via tax hikes, stimulus spending and benefits cuts, while other sources denied or diluted the interpretation. And, when asked, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), a member of the 12-person deficit-cutting panel, was vague about whether a Democratic offer had been proposed.
According to two congressional sources, the Democratic proposal would get to $1.3 trillion in federal budget savings by hiking revenues to raise half of the money. The plan would cut about $400 billion from Medicare — half through benefits cuts and half through provider savings — and proposes raising another $300 billion through stimulus spending.
Democrats have been told, from every wise corner, that tax hikes are off the table, except for closing tax loopholes to produce lower income tax rates–for which there is now not enough time to draft such language; and, by virtue of recent negative events surrounding President Obama’s Jobs bill–additional stimulus spending by this adminstration is also now off the table.
Below are comments which certainly tell the tale of why expectations for this Super Committee have been so low, especially after two months of “work”.
Reuters reported that while the proposal was a Democratic plan, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), a member of the Super Committee, balked at the Medicare cuts.
Asked about the details of the plan, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), another member of the panel, responded, “We’ll know about that later.”
Two congressional officials who spoke to Fox News said despite the descriptions of the proposal as the new plan, it is neither the first plan put forward nor the only plan on the table.
“The only thing new here is the leak,” said one source.
As quoted in the article, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the co-chair of the group, complained [that] “Congress has gone to this relatively small pot with cuts and sending caps again and again, while leaving many other pieces of the budget essentially untouched.”
This no doubt meaning Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which the Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf, has succinctly commented on before, and this time testifying before the committee, sternly reminded them that “Entitlement programs … is a [rapidly] growing share of federal outlays … and without addressing that path of spending, it would be extremely difficult to put the budget on a sustainable path.”
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the other co-chair of the group, said government spending has bubbled over in the last two years, even as the recession drags on, citing [that] … “The Environmental Protection Agency has grown 130.8 percent; the Energy Department has grown 178.7 percent with the stimulus; Education has grown at 180.6 percent, at a time when the economy has actually seen negative economic growth and family paychecks have shrunk,” he said.
Elmendorf has warned the committee that he needs its recommendations [very soon] in order to officially score the savings–like the beginning of November– which is next week.
The Democrats positions and comments above, indicate that they have not moved from their prior positions, whatsoever–and will not come to grips with the reality that it is the entitlement programs that are drowning the U.S. in unsustainable budget deficits–just like with the states pension and healthcare situations that have them on the ropes.
As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been saying all along … ‘If government spending was the answer, then the Greek economy would be going gangbusters.’
It is clear why Democrats hate the transperency of what was described as “a rare public hearing” of the Super Committee; because accurate [non-mainstream] reporting reveals that they think, speak and act like feckless, irresponsible children, who despise the part of their job that requires them to make tough, unavoidable decisions–and be accountable for them.
However, President Obama and the Democrats won’t have to dither for long, because the November 2012 elections are right around the corner.
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