Outside of the news media, lobbyists and the world of partisan politics, there are probably fewer than 147 people in the U.S.A. who really care what the bipartisan congressional supercommittee does or doesn’t do this week. Does this make them — possibly you and me — bad people?
There were/are two dangers facing America from the supercommittee. First, that it will do something. Second, that it will do nothing.
The idea of a supercommittee was born out of failure this year. After various groups and panels failed to come up with ways to trim the deficit, Congress decided it could — between vacations — take care of the situation. Get six Democrats and six Republicans (House and Senate) in one room and they will fix things. Democrats will give in on entitlements and Republicans will give in on higher taxes.
Once the so-called supercommittee was set up, various people predicted dire results for whatever group they are paid to represent. In the case of active and retired federal workers, there was a genuine concern that the pay freeze might be extended, health premiums raised, retirement benefits reduced and future COLAs for retirees permanently downsized. Most of those had been proposed (or implemented, in the case of the pay freeze) either by Congress, the White House or both.
Another fear was that the supercommittee would do nothing. This is always possible when the driving force is Congress.
If it didn’t do its job and agree on cuts, then the so-called sequestration (which rhymes with castration) process takes place. Automatic cuts go into effect. What many doomsayers failed to point out was that the entire process and implementation of the cuts could take as long as 13 years, which in politics (where you get a new House of Representatives every two years) is several lifetimes.
Bottom line: Should you be worried? Short answer: probably. A little. But you probably should be equally worried about traffic if you are driving to a Thankgiving event, or the possibility that tight old Uncle Jed will have saved a few bucks by buying a turkey or ham that passed its expiration date twice.
On Wednesday our Your Turn radio show will feature a double-header. We’ll be talking about health insurance “best buys” with Consumer Checkbook’s Walton Francis and also go over the supercommittee scorecard with reporters and editors from the Federal Times. That’s 10 a.m. EST tomorrow. You can e-mail me questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
There are conflicting studies about the health benefits of daily vitamins. However, taking a daily vitamin may make people feel invincible to risky behaviors, Live Science reports. When participants in a recent study were given a coupon for a free lunch, those who thought they were taking a daily vitamin (actually a placebo) were more likely to pig out at an unhealthy buffet than opt for a healthy, organic meal — even at the same price.
Super failure: Deficit-cutting panel gives up Congress’ supercommittee conceded ignominious defeat Monday in its quest to conquer a government debt that stands at a staggering $15 trillion, unable to overcome deep and enduring political divisions over taxes and spending.