In The New Republic this morning, Timothy Noah argues that the success or failure of the “supercommittee” is much less consequential than the ominous coverage of its efforts suggests.
The bipartisan (and bicameral) committee must agree on some combination of taxes and cuts to reduce the projected deficits by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years or that amount will be automatically cut in ways that both parties will dislike. Most recent coverage of the secretive committee has suggested that they won’t reach a deal (mainly because the Repubs won’t agree to any new taxes and the Dems won’t agree to a cuts-only deal).
Noah implies that they won’t reach a deal but the painful automatic cuts also won’t occur. He goes over the history of previous attempts by one Congress to impose budgetary discipline on future congresses (remember Gramm-Rudman anyone?) and finds they didn’t work largely because the current Congress can’t really bind the next Congress (or future congresses) to anything.
“Even the short-term sequestration threat is slight. Should the super committee display empty pockets come November 23, sequestration will begin not in 2011, or even in 2012, but rather in January 2013, two months after an election that will surely alter, one way or another, the power relationship between Democrats and Republicans.”