“A Horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” (King Richard) William Shakespeare
AHH, the “Supercommittee”. Rewind the clock six months, back to last summer, and you can watch most of our Congressmen and Senators climbing all over each other to get appointed to the Supercommittee that would be charged with finding ways to reduce our national deficit by $1.3 trillion. That’s trillion with a “T”. There are three truly astounding aspects of this process. The first is that 1.3 TRILLION dollars is only a drop in the bucket compared to what we spend in this country. The second is that everyone knows that if you want something to be left undone – appoint a committee to do it. And third is that we could even dream of allowing the same people that are responsible for the mess in the first place to try to fix it. It’s really mind-boggling (and I don’t mean the amount of money). If they fail to reach any agreement then the consequences are disastrous for the ecnomy – but there are absolutely NO consequences of failure for the individual members of the committee. No wonder every lawmaker wanted in, it’s a classic no-lose situation for them. At the end of the scrum, twelve of the nations “finest” lawmakers were seated at this most prestigious table. As we can see, each had their own individual agenda and their own party agenda.
But none of them had anything remotely resembling a national agenda – nothing, nada, zippo. How do I know this? Because their game has ended. The final buzzer has sounded on their game. And the score is……Wait, not telling yet. Humor me.
Rewind your clocks again – this time go back 224 years to the summer of 1787. Take your time, I’ll wait, it’s a long rewind. Follow me back to Philadelphia, in the sweltering heat. The economies of the 13 individual free states (we weren’t really the United States of America yet) are on the brink of disaster. The war had devastating effects and the states were all near bankruptcy. So fifty guys get appointed to the second Continental Congress – 1787’s version of a Supercommittee. They are charged with fixing things. Things in the economy and things between the states. Sound familiar? Seems we’ve been here before (remember, one eye forward and one eye back). That’s where the similarities end though. These 50 committee members work throughout the summer, without air conditioning or running water. They know the consequences if they are to fail. It’s likely that the newborn country will die in its infancy. They also know the consequences if they are to succeed. It’s likely that each of them will have to give up some of their personal power and influence. BUT – These 50 guys are STATESMEN! So they wrangle and haggle, give and take, sweat and argue — and they get it done. They don’t just fix the problems with the economy, they create the Constitution and they create the United States of America in the process. The results are even greater than the original task that we charged them with. For many of them it signalled the end of their political power, because they created a republic that took away their power and invested it in the citizens. They knew it was a possibility, but they also knew that the state they were saving was ultimately more important than their personal gain. For others, they went home knowing that they didn’t achieve every goal for their individual state, but they also knew that their state would be the beneficiary of being part of a bigger country.
This was their big game. You might call it the very first national championship. And when the final buzzer sounded in Philadelphia the score was Country 100 – Personal Ideology – 0. A romp. They crushed ’em.
Now, to the future again, all the way back to November 2011, back where we started. When we left it last, we were looking for the final score of our game. We gave our 12 guys through the end of November to come up with some answers to avert an economic disaster. The result: Nothing. No progress, no plan. None of them – not even one – could put their country in front of their personal agenda. Think of it this way, on a committee with those other weak players if even 1 guy had any strength or statemanship in him, he could have carried the team. But we employ 535 unskilled lawmakers between the House and Senate. They have walked away from what may be the greatest responsibility of their lifetimes, without so much as an apology to us. They have failed us and they fully expect that they will suffer no ill effects from doing so. These guys will come to you looking to extend their overpriced contracts next year. Underachievers, all of them. So when they do come to you for votes, remember this: no runs, no hits, no score. Nobody even got on base. Final Score Country 0 – Personal Ideology – 100. We got crushed this time!