Economics for the Earth Blog

Why we got behind failure

Posted Nov. 29, 2011 / Posted by: Ben Schreiber

Now that the Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the super committee, has officially announced that they are not going to reach a deal we can let out a sigh of relief. That’s because, as Paul Krugman wrote, failure is good in this case.  

The super committee that was formed in the wake of this summer’s artificial debt ceiling crisis was tasked with reducing the national debt by $1.5 trillion. This is in addition to $900 billion in discretionary spending cuts that had already been agreed to. Since the super committee could not reach agreement, $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending cuts will be triggered starting in January 2013, split evenly between military and non-military programs.

Why are we happy that the super committee flopped?

Instead of taking on common sense cuts like fossil fuel subsidies and increasing revenue in obvious ways like charging companies royalties for extracting gold and silver on public lands, the proposals coming out of the committee included a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts, lowering the corporate income tax rate, and further shredding the social safety net.

The proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts at the end of 2012, which are largely responsible for our current budget crunch, was particularly irresponsible. If the Bush tax cuts are extended, eating away revenue, then massive cuts in government services will become inevitable. 

With the super committee process behind us we can now hit the “reset” button on the entire debate.  Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) was right when he said, “The Congress is not bound by this. It's something we passed, we can reverse it.” While Senator McCain was talking about military cuts, the statement is true for all of the automatic cuts.

We look to the Occupy movement for inspiration and support.  Protecting the interests of corporations and the super-rich, while demanding that the poor and middle class take further hits, is simply unfair. Through the Occupy movement people are standing up and being heard and there will be an election before most of the cuts will be enacted. When Americans go to the polls on their priorities we feel confident that they will pick their social safety net over corporate profits.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Sunlightfoundation via Creative Commons

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