The new congressional committee on deficit reduction continues its work this week amid concerns that some elected officials have tried to narrow its options.
In a recent guest column in the Ames Tribune in Iowa, Concord Coalition officials lament that both President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have “turned their attention to clearing the table of key elements they once recognized had to be there.” The article was written by Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director, and Sara Imhof, the organization’s Midwest regional director.
Boehner said last month that tax increases should be off the super committee’s table, with spending cuts “the only option.” Even if tax reforms eliminated many loopholes, the Republican leader insisted, all of the resulting revenue should go not to deficit reduction but to lowering rates.
Obama’s latest long-term deficit reduction plan then pointedly left out Social Security, and its proposals for additional Medicare cuts were a small part of the overall plan.
“The positions Obama and Boehner have retreated to are familiar territory,” Bixby and Imhof write. “You might even call it politics as usual.”
They add: “The politics of deficit reduction are hard enough without our political leaders building walls around favored items. The more they take off the table, the more difficult it becomes to reach consensus on what is left. If one program or tax benefit is protected, why not others?”
Concord and many other organizations have urged the super committee to exceed its assigned goal of $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. Last week 155 business groups added their voice to the calls for the congressional panel to “go big.”