It was difficult to believe Congress could do more to tarnish its already sad, do-nothing reputation. But the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called “super committee”), which was given extraordinary powers to cut the nation’s deficit spending, announced Monday that it had failed. When one considers that the U.S. government will spend $77 trillion over the next 10 years, you’d think they could come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts (only 0.17% of spending) over 10 years.
What happens next?
The automatic cuts Congress agreed to if the super committee could not reach agreement will kick in—but not until 2013. Automatic defense and domestic spending cuts (incrementally implemented over a decade) amount to:
- 7.8% in domestic program spending
- 2% in Medicare spending
- 10% percent in defense spending
- $200 billion in savings from interest payments we don’t have to make.
The defense “hawks” among our esteemed lawmakers already are scheming to defeat the automatic cuts in defense spending, even though one of the most conservative members of Congress begs to disagree. “I think we need to be honest about it,” said Rand Paul, a Tea Party darling. “The interesting thing is there will be no cuts in military spending. This may surprise some people, but there will be no cuts in military spending because we’re only cutting proposed increases. If we do nothing, military spending goes up 23% over 10 years. If we sequester the money, it will still go up 16%.” So spending is still rising under any of these plans. In fact, if you look at both alternatives, spending is still going up. We’re only cutting proposed increases in spending.
In reality, the supposed automatic cuts to the defense budget are only potential cuts to increased budgets in defense spending. As it is, defense spending will go up at least 16% if the automatic cuts are implemented. However, cuts to unemployment benefits, Medicaid, and the like are real. And who shall advocate for those affected—the miserable 9%? Believe it or not, these particular cuts—especially if Congress forces them to be deeper by refusing to cut Defense Department increases—will affect every American by pushing us even closer to a double-dip recession.