‘Line’ Items: Super Failure Edition

SuperBad – Well, they did it after all. In an amazing feat of utter failure, the so-called Super Committee managed to under-perform the already low expectations and come up with absolutely nothing. While the official deadline for the panel to issue recommendations is Wednesday, it must submit any proposal to the Congressional Budget Office 48 hours ahead of time, making today the effective deadline. A statement from the panel's co-chairs this afternoon acknowledges there will be no deal. The failure to address the mounting national debt will not only be felt in the longer term, but this meltdown will have some immediate effects given the several unresolved fiscal issues facing Congress and the short period of time to address them before the end of the year. This is a defining moment for our political system. The Super Committee was a microcosm of all the ills inflicting the system. With voter approval of Congress already at an all-time low, will this high-profile failure to address a major challenge push the electorate over the edge? With both the House and Senate home this week for Thanksgiving, will constituents call them turkeys?

Go Small Goes Down – The Super Committee decided the best chance for a deal was to negotiate downwards. The high point was when Democrats on the panel offered a proposal that would result in deficit savings of $3 trillion over the next decade through a mix of reductions in health care spending and taxes. Although Republicans later responded by putting some tax revenue on the table, the offers from both sides became smaller with each round. That approach ultimately reached its logical conclusion with the Committee getting down to nothing. All along, CRFB advised a ‘Go Big’ approach, contending that it could make achieving a deal easier by putting everything on the table and offering shared sacrifice. We also suggested that it could be done in two steps with a meaningful down payment from the Super Committee and a detailed framework for a second stage.

Go Big Doesn’t Go Away – Last week Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced a non-binding ‘Sense of the Senate’ resolution calling on Congress to “Go Big” and enact at least $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. Also last week, a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers held a press conference showing their support for the Super Committee and encouraging it to Go Big. The Go Big Caucus will continue to work towards a comprehensive fiscal solution.

BBA DOA – As required by the Budget Control Act, the House voted on a balanced budget amendment on Friday. The measure, H.J. Res. 2, failed to attract the two-thirds majority needed to pass. The Senate will also vote on a BBA sometime after it returns from recess, with the same results expected. For budget process reform ideas that do not require a Constitutional amendment, visit http://budgetreform.org/.

Eyes Turn Back to Appropriations – At least Congress met one deadline, though they cut it close. On Friday, with the continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government about to expire, President Obama used his autopen to sign from Asia the measure containing a new CR funding government operations through December 16. The package also contained three FY 2012 spending bills – Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD. But the fate of the other nine spending bills is not clear. Wrapping them up into one big bill seems the most likely scenario.

Key Upcoming Dates (all times ET)

November 22

  • GDP for third quarter released by Commerce Department at 8:30 am.
  • GOP presidential debate in Washington, DC sponsored by CNN, Heritage Foundation, and American Enterprise Institute at 8 pm.

December 1

  • GOP presidential debate in Arizona sponsored by CNN at 8 pm.

December 10

  • GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, IA sponsored by ABC News at 9 pm.

December 15

  • GOP presidential debate in Sioux City, IA sponsored by Fox News at 9 pm.

December 16

  • Continuing resolution (CR) currently funding federal government operations expires.

December 19

  • GOP presidential debate in Johnston, IA sponsored by PBS NewsHour, Google and YouTube at 4 pm.

December 31

  • Both houses of Congress must vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as required by the Budget Control Act.

January 3, 2012

  • Iowa Caucuses.

January 10, 2012

  • New Hampshire Primary.

January 21, 2012

  • South Carolina Primary.

January 31, 2012

  • Florida Primary.

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