ICYMI: Rep. Hensarling ‘Why the Supercommittee Failed’
By Rep. Jeb Hensarling
November 22, 2011
“All now know that the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has failed to reach an agreement…we regrettably missed a historic opportunity to lift the burden of debt and help spur economic growth and job creation…
“President Obama summed up our debt crisis best when he told Republican members of the House in January 2010 that ‘The major driver of our long-term liabilities . . . is Medicare and Medicaid and our health-care spending.’ A few months later, however, Mr. Obama and his party’s leaders in Congress added trillions of dollars in new health-care spending to the government’s balance sheet.
“Democrats on the committee made it clear that the new spending called for in the president’s health law was off the table..committee Republicans offered to negotiate a plan on the other two health-care entitlements—Medicare and Medicaid—based upon the reforms included in the budget the House passed earlier this year.
“Democrats rejected this approach but assured us on numerous occasions they would offer a ‘structural’ or ‘architectural’ Medicare reform plan of their own. While I do not question their good faith effort to do so, they never did.
“Republicans on the committee also offered to negotiate a plan based on the bipartisan ‘Protect Medicare Act’…Rivlin-Domenici offered financial support to seniors to purchase quality, affordable health coverage in Medicare-approved plans…
“This approach was also rejected by committee Democrats.
“The Congressional Budget Office, the Medicare trustees, and the Government Accountability Office have each repeatedly said that our health-care entitlements are unsustainable. Committee Democrats offered modest adjustments to these programs, but they were far from sufficient to meet the challenge.
“Even if Republicans agreed to every tax increase desired by the president, our national debt would continue to grow uncontrollably.
“Republicans were willing to agree to additional tax revenue, but only in the context of fundamental pro-growth tax reform that would broaden the base, lower rates, and maintain current levels of progressivity.
“The Democrats said no. They were unwilling to agree to anything less than $1 trillion in tax hikes—and unwilling to offer any structural reforms to put our health-care entitlements on a permanently sustainable basis.
“Unfortunately, the committee’s challenge was made more difficult by President Obama. Since the committee was formed, he has demanded more stimulus spending and issued a veto threat against any proposed committee solution to the spending problem that was not coupled with a massive tax increase.
“Despite the president’s disappointing lack of leadership, I believe my co-chair, Sen. Patty Murray, and every Democrat acted with honor and integrity and negotiated in good faith to the end…
“I am committed to ensuring that full deficit reduction is realized, but Congress must work to achieve these savings in a more sensible manner that does not make us less safe.”
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