Bruce Bartlett emailed me to say that, rather than cancel the sequester as I recommended, we should get the band back together and reconstitute the anything-but-super committee to give it another chance to come up with a deficit reduction plan.
Sorry, Bruce…But I just don’t see the need to go there yet again.
How many federal budget commissions, special committees, advisory groups, and private negotiations do we need to fail before we admit they don’t work? Think about just the past few years: The Biden-Cantor negotiations, the Obama-Boehner summit negotiations, the B-S (that is, Simpson-Bowles) commission, the anything-but-super committee, the gang of six — fail, fail, fail, fail, fail.
What about the politics of the current situation is different enough from the last time the anything-but-super committee met and failed that makes anyone think a compromise on taxes and Medicare is more likely? Yes, the sequester that was more than a year away when the committee failed the last time is now only several months from happening. And, yes, the military spending community is far more active now than it was before in opposing at least the Pentagon portion of the sequester.
But a super committee sequel (“The Deficit Strikes Back”?) would have to be given several months and would report after the election during the lame duck session of Congress. Not only would that be a very tight timetable that would be hard to meet, reporting after the election would take away much of the influence the defense spending community would have on the negotiations.
In other words, the sequester would still be the most likely outcome.
And…I don’t see how another super committee is going to make the GOP any more likely to compromise. To the contrary, my expectation is that a Romney loss, a failure to take over the Senate or a loss of seats in the House — any one of which seem plausible at this point — is going to result in Republicans being less rather than more likely to compromise on budget issues. It’s not at all hard to imagine the tea party wing of the party insisting that any of those failures happened because Republicans were not steadfast enough in their opposition to tax increases and not insistent enough on spending cuts.
In other words, the election is far more likely to result in the GOP doubling down on its tax and spending intransigence rather than the kind of kumbaya moment that would be needed for a reconstituted super committee to actually be super.