CHICAGO, August 5, 2011 — The deal has been signed, the debt ceiling has been raised and the crisis averted. Temporarily, anyway. That was the easy part.
Now comes the part where, if we were washing dishes and had just put away the last scrubbed-out frying pan, we would turn around and find that someone put a dirty cereal bowl and spoon in the sink. We only thought we were done.
This time it’s not just a bowl and spoon, though. It’s more like turning around and finding the remnants of a complete holiday dinner, including appetizers, stacked in the sink.
The deficit-reduction deal approved Tuesday calls for a 12-member “Super Committee” to cut $1.5 trillion from the budget. Before that can happen, however, the 12 members must first be named. All we know right now is that there will be six Democrats and six Republicans. Of course, they will have to be male and female. Minorities will have to be represented.
It would be nice to see varying income brackets represented as well, but that’s not likely. The one thing they must all have in common is their “Super” powers. They must be faster than a speeding entitlement, stronger than Grandma’s hold on her Medicaid-awarded walker, and able to leap tall egos in a single bound.
Most importantly, they must be able to put the long-term interests of this country ahead of their personal and political agendas. And each party must find six of them. That’s just Super.
Once the committee has been named, they get the task of finding and agreeing on those $1.5 trillion in cuts. And they had better get busy. There are only about three months until the committee must present those cuts to Congress. And there isn’t even a committee yet.
Sometime around Thanksgiving (warning: holiday dishes ahead!) one of two things will happen. Either the committee’s super powers will have carried them above the fray and they will have a package to present to Congress or they won’t.
If they do, the Senate and the House have approximately a month to debate, discuss, and pass the committee’s recommendations. But don’t think the Christmas dishes will see the end of this either. If Congress gives its approval, the committee’s recommended spending cuts will take place.
If Congress doesn’t approve, or if the committee’s super powers fail them and they don’t get a package together, automatic-spending reductions will go into effect. One way or another, spending is going to be cut, the cuts will be painful, and no one will be happy about enforcing them.
Which brings us to the next pile of dirty dishes, enforcing the cuts. Next year is an election year. Whatever direction the balance of power shifts in Congress, the new Congress will want changes to the old deal, and so the process will continue.
No, the budget, like those dishes, will never really be done. And to top it all off, this entire plan will not fix the deficit. It only addresses about one-tenth of our $14.4 trillion debt.
The other $13 trillion of dirty laundry will have to wait until the dishes are under control.
To contact Julia Goralka, see above. Her work appears in End of the Day in the Communities at the Washington Times.
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