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Supercommittee Failure: It‘s About Spending!

by Douglas Kellogg / /

In the furor over the Supercommitee’s failure to reach anagreement on $1.2 trillion in cuts required by the Budget Control Act, resistanceto tax hikes on the part of some Republican lawmakers is being blamed byDemocratic leadership and many in the media. Setting aside the apparent factthat there was some willingness among GOP’ers to increase revenues, especiallyas part of a systemic tax reform deal, the real problem is a refusal to cutspending.

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

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

NTUF noted how far apart members started on theirsponsorship of budgetary legislation, as the biggest spending Democrat, XavierBecerra (D-CA), had a $1.157 trillion agenda and the most cost-consciousRepublican, John Kyl (R-AZ), aimed to save $85.0 billion. In fact at the timethe report was issued none of the House Democrats sponsored a single bill thatwould reduce the budget, in spite of the waste we see in Washington, Thus, itis 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 insavings.

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