(Philadelphia, PA) – The debate over our national debt has dominated Washington, D.C. for months. In doing so, it has put a strong magnifying glass on the dysfunctional nature of our government.
Congressmen, Senators, and Obama Administration officials simply cannot come together to compromise on anything, even issues on which there is great consensus among Americans.
One after the other, stories of failed legislation, gridlock, and toxic public discourse have done little to engender confidence in the work of the Congressional Super Committee.
This bi-partisan group of 12 Senators and U.S. Representatives is tasked with proposing some sort of plan for deficit reduction to the full membership of each chamber by Nov. 23rd.
If they fail to develop a plan containing a combination of cuts, reforms, and revenues of at least $1.2 trillion over the next ten years, then massive, across-the-board cuts will hit the federal budget.
My own lack of confidence in this process and our government has lifted slightly over the past few days, mainly because of the work of the Simpson-Bowles group, which produced a comprehensive, bi-partisan deficit reduction plan at this time last year.
While neither Pres. Barack Obama nor GOP House Leadership embraced the $4 trillion plan during the summer debt-ceiling debate, I believe portions of their framework are attractive and could form the basis of a “Grand Compromise” between Republicans and Democrats.
Some of the most attractive proposals include: tax reform that would eliminate $1.1 trillion in loopholes and tax giveaways to corporations and individuals; Medicare reform that saves the program via means-testing, coverage reform & simplification, and continued research into moving away from the faulty fee-for-service system; a broader, fairer, progressive tax system; and tax hikes on the super-rich.
Simply put, the members of Bowles-Simpson and other bi-partisan groups have received very positive receptions during presentations to Super Committee members, who seem genuinely open to many of these suggestions. This gives me a small feeling of hope that the Committee might get their act together and hand down some real reforms.
Besides blind hope, there’s another reason to believe that these people may finally get a handle on this country’s existential debt problem — the very fate of our nation.