The prospect of our well-beloved Congressional “super committee” failing to turn in its assigned budget agreement freights the news this weekend. But what bothers me a lot more than the panel’s projected failure is the sense of the whole thing having been a big fat fake from the beginning.
The plan’s supposed teeth were the huge and presumably intolerable military cuts built into the failure scenario. If the lawmakers couldn’t cut the called-for $1.2 trillion by playing nice and compromising, a magic evil witch would cut 10% of the Pentagon’s budget, and domestic programs too.
But since those cuts wouldn’t take effect for more than a year, Congress would (and it’s looking more and more like Congress will) have plenty of time to simply change the rules. It made them, it can bend and break them. Alas for us, there is no magic witch.
So why set up this bipartisan wool-pulling in the first place? Were they just trying to fool the public into thinking our venerable elected representatives were getting down to business and actually doing something to address the nation’s fiscal woes? If so, I don’t think it worked: one recent poll found only 9% of the public approves of how Congress is doing its job.
And no wonder. The super committee arose from the debt ceiling fight, a kerfuffle so traumatically stupid any solution would have come as relief.
Even the term “super committee” seems silly now – as if there had suddenly been summoned a superhero who could rescue us from the, uh, witch. The government created fictional characters to direct our imaginations away from the reality, which was so loaded with smarmy self-importance on one side and idiotic no-tax pledges on the other.
And it’s not as if they even had to do this with conscious purpose. No doubt individual members of the committee went into it with the best of intentions. No, this kind of fakery grows organically in the soil of our closed two-party system. First the fakers hoodwink themselves into expecting they’ll be able to manage these things sensibly; our victimhood follows forthwith.
Fortunately there’s talk of a royal baby across the pond, to bring us back to the things that really matter.