As the so-called super committee announced its inability to come up with a plan for deficit reduction by its Nov 23rd deadline, the sheer magnitude of dysfunction on Capitol Hill was perhaps best summarized by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who said:
Both sides of the aisle, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue – they cannot even come up with something that would not have even solved the problem.
That’s a key point to remember, that the 12-member super committee was simply tasked with finding $1.2 trillion to cut out of the federal budget over the next ten years. $1.2 trillion in cuts might not even balance the budget next year alone. With that in mind, Mayor Bloomberg’s criticism– which so aptly and pithily captures the absurdity of the deficit debacle that it could just as easily have been a Jon Stewart line– rings absolutely true. Congress cannot even come up with something that would not have even solved the problem. Can there be any wonder that its approval ratings remain so low?
And of course, no sooner had the public heard about the super committee’s failure than the partisan finger pointing began. Here’s the narrative you’ll hear throughout the mainstream media. It’s a narrative held entirely captive by the broader partisan meta-narrative that never fails to stifle progress and narrow the range of political thought within the safe confines of false dichotomies and hopelessly unimaginative, in-the-box excuses for actual problem-solving. It goes like this:
“The super committee’s failure was the Republicans’ fault because they refused to raise taxes on the wealthy to close the deficit. All they wanted to do was take away important social welfare programs from the lower and middle class so the rich can keep more of their wealth.” “No, the super committee’s failure was the Democrats’ fault because they refused to reform entitlements to close the deficit. All they wanted to do was tax the rich and stifle economic growth.”
Back and forth, the two sides will go, on Capitol Hill, in the media, and around the water cooler. Both “sides” will make their respective cases for which class of Americans should make the most sacrifice. Republicans will actually rather take an axe to social welfare spending before cutting a penny from the Pentagon’s fleet of aerial drones, or military bases in Eastern Europe, or subsidies for major corporate conglomerates. And Democrats will actually skip out on ending those same military expenditures and corporate subsidies in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy, ignoring the fact that even if wealth doesn’t always trickle down from the 1%, it always makes sure that costs do.
So what’s the solution? Who should sacrifice a little? The wealthy or the poor? The 1% or the 99%?
Read the rest of my article at the Independent Voter Network.Published in