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Supercommittee Failure: It’s About Spending!


Douglas Kellogg
November 23, 2011

In the furor over the Supercommitee’s failure to reach an agreement on $1.2 trillion in cuts required by the Budget Control Act, resistance to tax hikes on the part of some Republican lawmakers is being blamed by Democratic leadership and many in the media. Setting aside the apparent fact that there was some willingness among GOP’ers to increase revenues, especially as part of a systemic tax reform deal, the real problem is a refusal to cut spending.

$1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years is not a very big piece of the projected budget. The National Taxpayers Union and U.S. Public Interest Research Group sent over $1 trillion in bi-partisan cuts to the Supercommittee months ago, none of which involved catastrophic reductions in popular programs. If the Supercommittee could not consider getting rid of such obvious examples of waste, government subsidies, and non-essential programs, there is no reason to even conceive of new taxes being on the table. 

So why is there any push for new taxes? Clearly there was a reluctance to not just responsibly spend taxpayer dollars, but halt the meteoric growth of government. Much of the spending implemented after 2008 was so-called emergency spending, like TARP or the stimulus, yet returning to 2008 spending levels did not seem to be anywhere near the top of the Supercommittee’s agenda. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation study on Supercommittee member agendas foreshadowed this week’s outcome.

NTUF noted how far apart members started on their sponsorship of budgetary legislation, as the biggest spending Democrat, Xavier Becerra (D-CA), had a $1.157 trillion agenda and the most cost-conscious Republican, John Kyl (R-AZ), aimed to save $85.0 billion. In fact at the time the report was issued none of the House Democrats sponsored a single bill that would reduce the budget, in spite of the waste we see in Washington, Thus, it is not shocking that people as unconcerned with America’s fiscal state as Rep. Becerra and his friends didn’t come to terms on a meager $1.2 trillion in savings.

Beware of red herrings -- this disagreement over spending levels is the real issue. Raising taxes when there has not even been an attempt to cut waste or duplicative programs is not only completely unacceptable to taxpayers, but would be politically unpopular. In the end, it was the tax-borrow-and-spend caucus in Congress and its unwritten pact to protect the bloated federal budget that torpedoed the Supercommittee.


 

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