The Super Committee Speaks

October 26, 2011 By Melissa Silverman

This morning, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or Super Committee, is holding its third public hearing to discuss discretionary spending. In his testimony before the committee, Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf highlighted how much had already been cut from this small slice of the budget pie, saying “Lawmakers have already taken significant steps to constrain discretionary spending.” Elmendorf pointed out that discretionary funding in 2011 was lower than it had been since 2002. Also today, USAID will launch FWD (Famine. War. Drought.) to call attention to the ongoing crisis in the Horn of Africa. USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Gayle Smith from the NSC and Jon Carson, Director of Public Engagement at the White House will kick off the campaign with a video webchat today at 12:30 p.m. To watch, please visit or

Must Reads

Who’s in the News

Joe Lieberman: Reopen talks to keep U.S. force in Iraq (Joe Lieberman, USA Today)

In order to decrease the risk of the worst case scenarios for Iraq and America, our military leaders have long argued that it is critical to keep a small U.S. force in Iraq after this year, since the Iraqi Security Forces still lack key capabilities and the country’s stability is not yet secured. In fact, every military leader I have spoken to in recent years with any responsibility for Iraq has told me we must keep at least 10,000 troops there after this year to ensure that our hard-won gains are not lost. This failure puts at greater risk all that so many Americans and Iraqis fought, sacrificed and, in thousands of cases, gave their lives to achieve.

Smart Power

Club for Growth (Charles Kenny, Foreign Policy)

The latest data on economic growth released this year by the World Bank confirms what we all already knew: The United States and most of the West had a pretty grim decade between the turn of the millennium and 2010. It’s a well-worn story now, a decade bookended by bursting bubbles, with limping, debt-financed progress in between. But there is a lot of good news elsewhere in the bank’s assessment of gross domestic product (GDP) growth around the globe: Over the same period, 19 economies doubled in size. Both the causes and consequences of that growth varied considerably, but one thing is clear — the United States would have been even worse off without it.

Democracy Wins in Tunisia (Former Rep. Jane Harman, Newsweek)

Women will comprise 30 percent of the new National Assembly. How much power they have and what they do with it really matters. While Tunisia is full of talented and capable women, some in modern dress and some veiled, they must be passionately committed to forming a democracy that respects them. Indeed, it is imperative that the United States signal its strong support for the new government in Tunisia and in doing so make clear its support for strong roles for women and others.

Politics/Foreign Policy
Syrian Opposition Calls for Protection from Crackdown (Nada Bakri, New York Times)

A Syrian opposition group called on Tuesday for international protection from the government’s military crackdown on protesters, a day before an Arab delegation was scheduled to arrive in Syria in an effort to resolve seven months of unrest in the country. It did not define the kind of protection but called for Arab and other international observers to be allowed into the country. Most Syrian opposition groups and figures object to any international military intervention in Syria, including a measure like the United Nations no-fly zone over Libya, which paved the way for NATO strikes that helped topple the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Republican candidates offer a diverse set of economic plans (Karen Tumulty & Perry Bacon Jr., Washington Post)

Latest to put forward a blueprint is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former front-runner who fully embraced a number of longstanding and far-reaching conservative goals. “My plan does not trim around the edges,” Perry said as he announced it Tuesday in South Carolina. The centerpiece is a proposal that would give individuals the option to pay a 20 percent flat tax. Perry also would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent; eliminate taxes on dividends and capital gains; make deep, unspecified cuts in federal spending; and establish individual retirement accounts outside the Social Security system.

Jon Huntsman: My rivals haven’t lived overseas like me (Alex Pappas, Daily Caller)

GOP presidential candidate and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman bragged to students at George Washington University on Tuesday evening that he’s the only Republican running for the White House who has spent a substantial amount of time living outside the United States. “I’ve lived overseas four times, as I mentioned earlier,” Huntsman said. “You’re not going to find any other candidate who has spent any time overseas — maybe, you know, a trip here or there — who has been a practitioner of foreign policy.”

Barack Kissinger Obama (Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times)

So let’s be clear: Up to now, as a commander in chief in the war on terrorism, Obama and his national security team have been so much smarter, tougher and cost-efficient in keeping the country safe than the “adults” they replaced. It isn’t even close, which is why the G.O.P.’s elders have such a hard time admitting it. But while Obama has been deft at implementing Bush’s antiterrorism policy, he has been less successful with his own foreign policy.