House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is researching the history and considering politicians and industry executives for a debt commission.
McCarthy secured his biggest political victory since becoming speaker in January. He worked with the White House to postpone the debt ceiling to January 2025 and avoid $1.5 trillion in deficits over a decade. The bill excluded Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which account for most federal expenditures and drive debt.
McCarthy favors a deficit-reduction fiscal commission. Despite earlier triumphs, Congress did not approve the latest commission’s recommendations. The speaker requested Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., to assist him negotiate the debt ceiling with the White House.
I’m experimenting with members. Should I hire efficient modern businesspeople?” McCarthy said. “I think that combination would work well, but I’m spending a lot of time putting that together.”
Many believe the country’s finances require cuts and tax hikes. Many Republicans and Democrats oppose tax rises and benefit reforms.
McCarthy advised speaking about each debt commission suggestion.
McCarthy opposed debt ceiling taxes. McCarthy said he was focusing on structure but added that government revenue, 19.2% of GDP last year, is at the upper end of the 50-year norm.
Democrats fear. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “I don’t know what the commission would look like, so I can’t say.”
Commission landmines abound. McCarthy’s House measure would fail without Senate and White House backing. A strategy that requires public sacrifice may be revealed during a presidential election year, a bad political environment.
McCarthy compared it to the Defense Department’s Base Realignment and Closure rounds to reduce infrastructure. “I could bring it directly to the floor, no amendments, you vote up or down and see what passed or didn’t.”
To minimize misunderstanding, he advocated sectioning items.
Steve Womack, R-Ark., likes commissions.
“We need to get as much politics out of it as we can and just give us the facts,” Womack said. The government spends 70% on autopilot.
“We must make these programs sustainable,” Womack said.
The commission plan was supported by Senate No. 2 Republican John Thune.
I agree. “Let’s get the best experts in the room and figure out what’s the best way to fix these issues, make these programs sustainable, and see if we can’t do something meaningful to address deficits and debt,” Thune said.
Ron Wyden, Democratic Senate Finance Committee head, dubbed it “ideological trophies” for Republicans.
Wyden continued, “They’re looking at a glide path to reduce benefits.”
Latest commission-recommended deficit reduction failed.
Simpson and Bowles co-chaired the 2010 Simpson-Bowles commission. They reduced safety-net programs and raised taxes while cutting top rates to 28% from 35%. It would have raised Social Security’s retirement age and cut health insurance and mortgage interest deductions.
Most committee members approved the ideas, but three votes short of the 14 required to send the package to Congress.
Simpson-Bowles panelist Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said Congress needed a stronger voting system. He said a panel would best prepare Congress for “tough political decisions” on the $31 trillion-plus debt.
After Simpson-Bowles, Congress established a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction the next year. The “supercommittee” failed to produce a $1.2 trillion deficit-cutting plan after two months.
If the supercommittee fails, its measure slashes defense and non-defense spending equally. March 2013 saw cuts. Congress often expanded discretionary expenditure limitations to offset the automatic drop.