We shouldn't be surprised that the "Super Committee" was unable to reach an agreement on a comprehensive deficit-reduction plan. The blame game now begins, unabated until the next time Congress needs to make tough decisions about spending. Now the next countdown clock has started ticking: 13 months until the automatic spending cuts (or "sequestration") kick in. It is essential that any workable path forward from this mess must include a balance of both spending cuts and additional revenue.
Congress has a solemn and Constitutional obligation to keep the federal government's fiscal house in order. And Congress has the dual responsibility of not only ensuring fiscal stability, but also preventing the economy from tail-spinning into an even deeper downturn. The majority party running the House of Representatives abdicated that responsibility by passing the Budget Control Act of 2011, creating a "Super Committee" that was as ineffective as the majority. I branded the Super Committee the "Kevorkian Commission," which, if we couldn't find a way forward, would threaten to deliver a take-it or leave-it dose of poison to the American people--senior citizens and folks of all ages.
If the current Majority in the House of Representatives continues to insist on an unbalanced plan, by cutting expenditures (which I agree we must do), but yet again refusing to consider any actual increase in revenue, then domestic priorities such as Medicare, as well as national defense spending, will be put at grave risk in 2013 by sequestration. A responsible deficit-reduction plan must consider the needs of all our nation's citizens on a fair basis. It is fundamentally unfair to cut programs, such as Medicaid, that deliver health benefits to our most at-risk and vulnerable citizens, or break America's historic commitment to provide health benefits to senior citizens through Medicare, while not asking any sacrifice from the wealthiest members of our society.
So, as we plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this week with friends and family, I am reflecting on our basic principles. The people I came to Washington to help need real help now. They need jobs, they need food on the table, and they need educational opportunities. That's what I came here to do and that should be our collective commitment.
Gary L. Ackerman