Debt 'Supercommittee' Could Send Much-Needed Signal to the Nation

Protestors are calling for a major change in Washington. Is the 'supercommittee' listening?


Today's must-read: David M. Walker's essay in Politico on the upcoming recommendations of the "supercommittee." He'd like their recommendations to exceed their initial goals for spending reductions, so that across-the-board cuts don't take place, and he lists specific proposals for spurring economic growth and cutting unemployment. All good.

But here's the part I like the best, which reminds me of the old story of the genie who comes out of the bottle and grants one wish. The guy holding the bottle makes one wish: he wishes for more wishes. Brilliant:

The final objective of the committee's recommendations should be to extend the special legislative process under which it is operating — to allow for even greater deficit-reduction progress in the next few years. This would help bring long-overdue comprehensive reforms to the budget process, various social insurance programs and the Tax Code ...

All these recommendations could follow the same rules as the current committee—including no amendments and a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

He also proposes an "independent government transformation commission," which would continue the work of the supercommittee over the coming years, because it's just too big a job to be done by next month. That's for sure. We need people on that commission who are business leaders and entrepreneurs, maybe a few former Cabinet officials and former congressional leaders. The last thing we need is more politicians worried about the next election making the big decisions.

Walker goes on to suggest a nonpartisan citizen education campaign to help voters understand what needs to be done to save Social Security and Medicare, reform the tax code, and reduce the deficit responsibly. Former Sen. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have pretty much said they'd be happy to help with that, and Rep. Paul Ryan's already doing it. Walker himself is on the circuit on college campuses explaining what needs to be done as part of his Comeback America initiative. Americans are ready to accept big changes—the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests show that—and are extraordinarily engaged right now. They want solutions, and so far, they're not getting them from Washington.

[Rick Newman: How the Debt Fiasco Damaged the Economy]

"Americans and others around the world are watching to see if America will begin to take steps to put its finances in order and defuse its ticking debt bomb," Walker writes. "The supercommittee has a chance to send a strong signal that Washington has awoken and is committed to staying great." 

It's time to send that signal, loud and clear.