Charlie Dent, I'd be worried. I think he's the best we have to offer, but Congress' approval rating is at just nine percent, an all-time low. And for good reason. The Super Committee's failure to produce a budget compromise is just the latest disappointment from a bunch of duds.
In his fourth term, and now serving on the powerful Appropriations Committee, Dent will be painted this election cycle as part of the problem, not the solution. He will be identified with the never-ending gridlock in Congress. But in each of these four terms, Dent has been willing to reach across the aisle and is one of Congress' few remaining centrists. The nonpartisan National Journal, for example, ranked him as the House's 13th most centrist member in 2010.
Dent has released the statement below, following the failure of the Not-So-Super Committee.
“Like many Americans, I am deeply disappointed in the failure of the Super Committee. However, the fact the panel failed to put forth a comprehensive plan to tame federal spending does not abdicate Congress's duty to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.
“I advocated for a larger agreement -- closer to $4 trillion -- to reassure the country that its leaders understand this basic fact: America's long term obligations far exceed our capacity to pay for them. No amount of spin or posturing will change this fundamental dynamic.
“Like Europe, and despite the failure of the Super Committee, the President and Congress must deal with this fiscal challenge if we want a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. Nevertheless, automatic spending cuts will begin in 2013 through the sequestration process. The deficit reduction goal must be met and it is now up to Congress to see that it's implemented in a manner that does not harm our nation's security.
“As for the President, he abdicated his leadership responsibilities by undermining the Super Committee when he insisted on $1 trillion of tax increases as a precondition and no changes to the health care law's new spending and higher taxes. And the President has not put forward any substantive reform proposals to address mandatory spending, after saying in 2010, "The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid spending. Nothing comes close." That was then.
“As far as revenues are concerned, Senator Pat Toomey (PA) offered a serious revenue package -- consistent with the principles laid out in the Simpson-Bowles Commission -- that would have raised at least $300 billion by cutting breaks and deductions, largely for the wealthy, in exchange for lower marginal tax rates for all income taxpayers. The offer was summarily rejected.
“Despite this disappointing failure, I believe a renewed sense of urgency has helped cultivate greater bipartisan dedication to addressing our nation’s dire fiscal challenges. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to take the necessary steps to restore stability to our fiscal house.”