What comes after super? The Super Bowl is the last game of the NFL season. Super Tuesday used to be the biggest day during a presidential nomination run. The debt-reduction supercommittee held the promise of cutting through the political gridlock on Capitol Hill over spending and taxes.
Only the Super Bowl lives up to its superlative. And even that’s no guarantee of a good game.
The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, as the supercommittee is officially known, has a long ways to go to earn its nickname. Its goal is to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts from the next 10 years. Its 12 members do not need a super majority to get it done. Only seven need to come to a consensus.
The committee’s deadline is Wednesday. No deal by then, and spending cuts become automatic in 2013, conveniently scheduled for after the election cycle. This is the third effort this year by Congress to negotiate a budget blueprint for the country. Where it has failed before, here we tread again.
With $15 trillion in debt and more than $70 trillion in financial obligations (thanks to Social Security, Medicare and veteran benefits), America’s IOU problem has been helped by an uncertain world. Consider that this month Italy teetered on the edge as its borrowing costs rose to 7 percent. The U.S. Treasury’s average interest rate on its debt is 2.3 percent.
The worries in Europe have given Washington the wiggle room to play politics. Eventually, the market will turn its attention to America, and America better be super-sure of itself and its financial future.
Tom Hudson, anchor and managing editor of “Nightly Business Report,” can be followed on Twitter HudsonNBR.