The 12 members of Congress on the “super committee” appointed to resolve the enormous federal spending issue are philosophically miles apart, a new analysis shows. But an agreement, with no tax hikes still is possible.
When it was up to the Republican and the Democrat leaders of both congressional chambers to choose members for the committee, only a spark of hope flickered that an agreement could be reached by the Thanksgiving deadline. The outlook for agreement is still nearly as unlikely as, say, the prospect that President Obama will suddenly turn into a free-market capitalist.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said from the first that he would not pick anyone who would support increasing taxes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in her usual vague attempts at communicating, said those at the negotiating table should “share the values of the American people.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sounded a bit more optimistic that some compromise might be reached.
Th National Taxpayers Union (NTU), the non-partisan research organization with 362,000 members, Aug. 17 released a study of the “super committee” panel’s sponsorship of past bills in each of their congressional chambers.
Analyzed were legislative bills the members of the super committee have sponsored or cosponsored over the years, using the National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s “BillTally” system. It shows how members voted on spending programs of the recent past.
“The 12 panel members have legislative agendas whose individual impact on the budget could vary widely, from an annual cut in federal expenditures of $85 billion to a yearly spending increase of more than $1.15 trillion.
“Based on the legislative turf that each of them has staked out so far, lawmakers on the Super Committee will not be approaching the task of cutting spending on a vast plot of common ground,” said NTUF senior policy analyst and BillTally project director Demian Brady. “However, BillTally data also demonstrates that if they are willing to explore ground that has already been plowed by other members, it is possible to cultivate a package that would fulfill the ten-year $1.5 trillion deficit reduction mandate of the Super Committee without raising taxes.”
The BillTally cost accounting system since 1991 has computed a “net annual agenda based on each Senator’s or Representative’s individual sponsorship or cosponsorship of legislation. This unique technique provides an in-depth look at the fiscal behavior of lawmakers, free from the influence of committee, party leaders and rules surrounding floor votes. All cost estimates of bills are obtained from third-party sources, Congressional members’ offices, or are calculated from neutral data.”
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