Monday, September 12, 2011

It's a Bird...It's a Plane...No, it's the Super-Committee!

I happen to love old Doris Day movies. I love her perfect yellow hair and pristine voice, and the wholesome, down-home characters she usually played (I find her “scandalous” characters endearing, too).

Last week our President made me think about Doris’ movie “Lover Come Back” with Rock Hudson. If I remember correctly, in the show Doris Day and Rock Hudson are competing ad executives. Somehow they both end up putting together big campaigns for a product called VIP. The only problem is, VIP does not exist! So, in order to avoid bigger trouble, Rock Hudson hires a scientist to create a product he can name VIP. The product turns out to be an after-dinner mint with the effects of a triple-martini. Well, in true Doris Day movie fashion, Doris ends up marrying Rock, and they all live happily ever after.

So, what does this have to do with President Obama? Apparently he gave a very stirring speech on his new jobs bill (I missed it, due to a little black-out in our area, but more on that another time). As I read through the text of the speech, I was impressed with much of the language. I could imagine that listening to it may have been inspiring—like a pep rally.

However, reading it without the passion and drama, the words were just that—words. And I think I missed something. He seemed to say over and over, “Pass this bill now.” But I’m not quite sure what that bill is exactly. The president said his deficit-reduction proposal will include spending cuts, modifications to Medicare and Medicaid, and tax increases for the wealthy and big corporations. But not a whole lot of specifics. He will send his jobs package to Congress soon. He said that the changes needed to pay for the effort would be folded into a broader attempt already underway to cut federal budget deficits. But still, pass this bill NOW.

So, let’s see if I get this—he’s started this great ad campaign for VIP, I mean a jobs bill, and he wants it passed NOW. So all that’s left to do is actually invent VIP bill. And who’s going to do that?

I think we’re seeing more and more clearly that the task for at least figuring out how to pay for his jobs plan will fall on the shoulders of the new special congressional Super Committee.

Obama said, “The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act.” Then he said that a week from Monday [today] he’ll release the more ambitious deficit plan—a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run (by the way, shouldn’t he have done that a long time ago?).

So, he has a few more hours to come up with what VIP actually is.

But in the mean time, and I’m checking again to see if I’m still following—Obama has a plan requiring half a trillion dollars, which he is expecting Congress to find a way to pay for. When they argued for weeks over a few billion dollars this summer, Congress, or more specifically, the Super-Committee, is now expected to find the $1.5 trillion savings already expected, along with an additional $450 billion to cover this bill.

That super committee is going to not only have to be super heroes, but miracle workers.

I don’t know—maybe the President had a few too many VIP mints before he presented this “plan.” Unfortunately this isn’t a Doris Day movie where everyone works things out after a few funny misunderstandings, and they all live happily ever after. Should we really pass this bill now? I’d say wait, until we see what VIP really is before we pass this bill.

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