The Super Committee Disaster
August 24, 2011
Nothing illustrates the gap between Washington and America better than the difference in reaction to the “Super Committee” that the debt ceiling deal set up to cut spending.
In Washington, a 12-member group with tremendous power to dictate the details of debt reduction is seen as a great idea.
Outside Washington, people applaud every time I condemn the process.
The rest of America sees a plan to skip 523 members of Congress while focusing power on a select 12 as a dangerous centralization of authority.
People instinctively understand that their Senators and Congressman will be on the outside lobbying the “powerful 12.”
Ninety-seven percent of the American people have now lost representation in critical decisions about the size and scope of their government.
The rest of America also intuitively understands the absurdity of reducing the 217 committees and subcommittees that normally contribute to policy decisions in the House and Senate to one “super” committee for the whole Congress.
If every committee and subcommittee tackled an equal share of spending reductions, they would each be responsible for cutting $7 billion over 10 years. That would be about $700 million a year, which even overstates the goal because there would be some savings from not paying interest on the debt if spending is cut.
Of course, some subcommittees have very limited jurisdictions and should be assigned smaller goals. Others have huge jurisdictions (like Medicaid) and should have somewhat larger goals.
I have no doubt that 535 members in 217 committees and subcommittees, using all their staffs, would achieve smarter results than 12 people frantically looking for the big solution.
That big solution may be far worse than thousands of smaller cuts to eliminate the incredible waste that has become commonplace in Washington. The group Strong America Now estimates that Congress could save $500 billion per year simply by modernizing the federal government’s management system. They argue that the Lean Six Sigma technique for dramatic cost reductions could identify billions in savings with a careful examination of processes and expenditures across the government.
If that sounds implausible, consider that the Defense Department has already used Lean Six Sigma to save more than $22 billion, increasing productivity 1,000 percent in some facilities.
The Strong America Now estimate is more than three times the goal of the Super Committee. You can learn more about anti-waste budgeting and Lean Six Sigma in my newsletter here and at StrongAmericaNow.com.
For a full overview of my case against the Super Committee and an alternative method to balance the budget in a publicly accountable way, you should watch the speech I gave last Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation.
I think you will agree that targeted savings with full representation for all Americans is a better solution than unaccountability and concentrated power.
Let me know: Would you prefer the 12-member Super Committee or the involvement of all 535 members of Congress?