Leaders shirked their responsibilities, formed committee

Paul Jenkins

Let us welcome to our brave, new -- and incredibly broke -- world the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, another cynical signal that our government finally is broken beyond any hope of repair.

By any reputable accounting, the United States is bankrupt, with debt approaching $15 trillion -- that's with a "t" -- and we add about $1.5 trillion a year to that total, probably more if the truth ever were told.

Our finances are as shaky as a bowl of Jell-O. The left blames Republicans. The right blames Democrats. Every day, the red ink sloshes ever deeper. Both parties had a hand in spending us into the poorhouse.

Nobody cares anymore who got us into the mess; most wonder how we will get out before our great-grandchildren are reduced to economic slavery.

Faced with all that, Congress, bitterly divided along partisan lines, routinely accomplishes zip, passing laws without even reading them, and President Obama? Well, he is busy worrying about 2012, turning his 50th birthday into a crass campaign fundraiser at $34,800 a plate. All this, mind you, as Americans scramble to keep their homes and jobs. So much for sharing the sacrifice and leadership.

Instead of doing their jobs and getting the nation's fiscal house in order, Obama and Congress stampeded themselves into a do-nothing debt ceiling deal to avoid financial default -- and trick the rubes.

The agreement cuts no programs, abolishes no duplication or waste in government and reforms no taxes or entitlement spending. In fact, it promises even more spending, just what put us in the red.

To further dodge their responsibilities, our elected officials did what they do when they get scared: They formed another committee. Who could blame them? It provides political cover, a nifty way to deflect criticism and almost assures them publicity without having to put anything on the line. A seat on the Deficit Reduction panel is the hot "E-ticket" nowadays.

It would be easy to get angry. Another committee? Really? We need action. But it finally struck me: Who needs government? I mean, really? It's like asking: Who needs a serious rash?

What if we amended the Constitution -- about to be rewritten in Chinese, anyway -- to dump Congress and maybe even the president? They stopped working for us long ago. What's the worst that could happen?

The creators of our political system apparently never considered the effects of long-term inbreeding or tertiary stupidity, avarice and megalomania on such an enterprise. It should be clear to us now.

Instead of electing 535 doofuses whose only job is to get re-elected, what would happen if we invested in a handful of top-notch people who would pick committees to examine problems at the national level and come up with real solutions. If the committee dodge is good enough for Congress it should be good enough for us.

Think about the huge menagerie of lawyers, union hacks, political flacks, policy wonks and guards and secretaries we could strip from the bloated payroll.

Or the experts and authorities and boatloads of geeks, hangers-on and handsomely paid toadies we could send packing to the unemployment offices too many Americans already are familiar with. We could save zillions and establish an entire new order of private sector lobbyists to hector the new committees.

You'll see that I'm right when this latest 12-member, "super committee" abomination sets sail.

It likely will fail because it will include the very people who caused the problems to begin with.

It will contain six Democrats intent on giving away the farm and the rest of the nation too. It will contain six Republicans who would kill their mothers before levying a new tax or tackling real reform. Not much wiggle room there.

The panel, the latest in a long string that have failed to control spending, will have incredible power to cut $1.5 trillion, or more, but with little success. The truth is, committee or no committee, the national debt is going to grow. We're borrowing-- from people who may not like us all that much -- something like $4.5 billion each and every day.

Despite all that, Congress refuses to even acknowledge the simple cure: Hold the line on spending and cut and reform taxes to stimulate the economy and increase revenues.

It would be hard but not as hard as what is coming. Hey, maybe we need another committee.

Paul Jenkins is editor of AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.