Is anyone really surprised that the Super Committee is failing to reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion over ten years from the federal budget?
Surely, the answer is no. This seems almost the inevitable conclusion of the predictable drama that began last summer, when last minute, debt ceiling negotiations punted the bigger budget questions to a Congressional “Super Committee” to convene in the fall. The Super Committee has done what all committees seem to do—they've held public hearings and now emergency, weekend-negotiating sessions—and will now regretfully report there's no agreement.
The Super Committee's failure means that $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts (disproportionately to defense spending) will commence in 2013. Maybe. Unless Congress acts to restore that funding and nullify the cuts, which it seems nearly certain to do.
Yes, it's business-as-usual Washington, even as we enter economic times that are anything but business-as-usual. The good news is that Americans know this can't go on forever.
Opinion poll junkies know that Americans support cutting government spending in general (for example, see this Gallup poll in which 50 percent of Americans believe cutting spending is the key to closing the deficit, compared to just 11 percent who believe tax increases will do the trick). Yet when it comes to specific programs—particularly items like Social Security, Medicare, and education—majorities object to spending reductions.
Research also suggests, however, that with a little education and the right reassurances, voters can come to support making needed cuts, even to these celebrated programs. For example, a new poll conducted by the polling company™ for the Independent Women's Voice of Iowa Republican voters found that when those voters were reminded that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid already comprise 41 percent of the federal budget, by a two-to-one margin voters support restructuring federal entitlement programs. Importantly, 43 percent of surveyed voters strongly reject the notion that business-as-usual can continue on entitlement spending, compared to just 14 percent who felt that it could.