"I am not surprised or disappointed at the inability of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to develop bi-partisan solutions to our long term fiscal challenges. I never supported the supercommittee and didn't vote for it because I prefer Members do the job we were sent here to do under the regular order of business. The Constitution does not provide for any supercommittees.
I also disagree with the supercommittee's priorities. We did not get into this mess overnight and it was unrealistic to believe that a small group could or even should fix a decade long problem in few weeks, especially when Republicans refused to raise net revenues. The last time Congress balanced the budget, we did it with a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. As a result, when President Clinton left office, we were operating with a surplus. But then we spent eight years living off the George W. Bush credit card, leaving us with a deficit of $1.2 trillion the day President Obama was sworn in. Last month, the Treasury Department reported a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for fiscal year 2011, almost identical to the deficit for 2010.
Why rush to fix a problem that is not getting worse when we have more important tasks at hand? Austerity does not put people to work. Everyone agrees what we need to do now is grow the economy though investments in infrastructure, education and clean energy and extended unemployment benefits. These are our priorities. I am relieved the supercommittee did not slash Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as was widely expected. Thankfully, all of these programs are protected from the automatic cuts that will start in 2013. If anything, the failure of the supercommittee is a victory for the safety net so many Americans are relying on in these difficult times. Now, Congress needs to get to work."