Despite multiple deficit reduction proposals being tossed back and forth, the Super Committee was unable to agree on one plan to balance the government’s books.
In recent weeks, after witnessing the ideas being tossed around, our advocacy message on Capitol Hill morphed into “No deal is better than a bad deal.” This transformation occurred because of the unlikelihood that any deal agreed upon would help individuals and families already struggling to survive. Partisan hostility prevented a fair reduction of the federal deficit through a combination of increased revenue and spending cuts affecting both the military and domestic programs.
The members of the Super Committee mimicked the majority of members of their respective parties by refusing to come to a reasonable compromise. Most Republicans insisted that the wealthiest 1% of the population not be asked to contribute their fair share to the deficit reduction. Rather, any Republican concession would be coupled with the demand that the “Bush” tax cuts are made permanent. Democrats persevered in protection of seniors reliant on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; and demands that the wealthiest members of our nation contribute more to the solution.
Representative Hensarling, co-chair of the Super Committee, spent last week proclaiming that if there was no deal and sequestration ensued, he would immediately propose legislation to remove military spending cuts from the sequestration. It was reassuring to hear President Obama’s immediate comment that if the Super Committee were to fail, he would veto any attempt to remove any entity from the sequestration.
President Obama is urging Congress to develop an appropriate means of making the required cuts and increases in revenue to meet the requirements of sequestration - defense programs and non-defense programs would each be cut by a total of $54.7 billion each year from 2013 through 2021. Non-military cuts would come from both mandatory and discretionary programs; however key mandatory programs of the safety-net are exempt from sequestration (SNAP, child nutrition, Supplemental Security Income, refundable tax credits such as Earned Income Tax Credit, veterans’ benefits, Medicaid, Social Security and federal retirement). Limited reductions will be made to Medicare providers and insurance plans.
Although it is easy to feel disappointed that the Super Committee did not come up with a much-anticipated solution, we should be thankful that the committee Democrats blocked other members’ demands for bigger tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires coupled with deep cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that would hurt a large percentage of Americans.
While the Super Committee's work has ended, our work for a fair economy continues. There is still much advocacy work to be done, seeing that many discretionary programs supporting the safety-net are subject to further cuts – even after those already imposed in the Budget Control Act (over $900 billion).
In the coming weeks, NETWORK will share with you our newest strategy for protecting safety-net programs and how we will reach out to our increasingly partisan-splitting government.