Chris Collins
The Baker City Herald

Baker City Editorial Board

Some super committee, huh?

Rarely has an entity been so inaptly named as the 12-member bipartisan panel tasked with trimming at least $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.

Although "abject failure committee" lacks a certain cachet, we'll concede.

Anyway, the committee, which comprised six Republicans and six Democrats (three members of each party from the House and Senate), failed spectacularly.

And, perhaps, predictably.

Considering Congress as a whole was incapable of forging a deficit-cutting compromise earlier this year, it requires considerable optimism (or naivete, some would argue) to believe that plucking a dozen people from a group of 535 would do the trick.

So what happens now?

President Obama says he will veto any bill repealing the $1 trillion in spending cuts - split between defense and domestic spending - that are supposed to take effect starting in 2013 if the supercommittee fails.

We agree with the president's stance.

The committee's admission of defeat is embarrassing, to be sure.

But continuing to ignore the nation's $15 trillion debt poses a serious impediment to the nation's ability to recover from the recession.

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that spending cuts are necessary.

Sadly, the political pressure inevitable during the presidential campaign makes it less likely that a real compromise, one that takes a meaningful bite out of the national debt, will prove palatable to a majority in Congress.

And such a compromise exists.

Democratic leaders, for instance, have said they would support savings in entitlement programs Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in exchange for Republicans endorsing cancellation of the Bush-era tax cuts for higher income brackets.

That's a reasonable plan.

We especially like the compromise because it's guaranteed to annoy zealots in both parties.

Doggedly liberal Democrats will bemoan the weakening of the public safety net, never mind that thoughtful cuts can be made that don't harm the most vulnerable citizens.

Hard-line conservative Republicans, meanwhile, will deem the tax hike on the wealthy as class warfare, even though there's no evidence that returning to Clinton-era marginal rates would have anything but a negligible effect on the economy.

But the reality will ring clear and loud amid the partisan static - the federal government will spend less money, while simultaneously collecting more.

Which sounds like an excellent way to start chipping away at that $15 trillion monolith that looms over us all and respects no party affiliations.