Photo: Flickr Chris Griffith
We’ll spare you the back and forth, but suffice it to say that Democrats and Republicans are blaming each other for the super committee’s soon-to-be-announced failure to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit.But both sides share a part in the committee’s failure — with Democrats hesitant to offer substantial entitlement reforms and wasting time demanding stimulus spending, and Republicans demanding that the Bush Tax cuts be extended as part of a tax reform package.
(New spending and further tax cuts would only have made the committee’s deficit-cutting job harder. Democrats were never going to accept the extension of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy — even as a part of comprehensive tax reform. And Republicans could hardly agree to tax increases without massive entitlement reforms — and even that would be a stretch.)
More significant to the failure is that the committee never functioned as a group – with lawmakers still beholden to leadership, and under pressure from their caucuses not to give away the store. POLITICO’s Mike Allen has an extensive chronicle of this failure to connect here:
The last PRIVATE meeting was Oct. 26. You might as well stop reading right there: The 12 members (6 House, 6 Senate; 6 R, 6 D) were never going to strike a bargain, grand or otherwise, if they weren’t talking to each other. Yes, we get that real deal-making occurs in small groups. But there never WAS a functioning super committee: There was Republican posturing and Democratic posturing, with some side conversations across the aisle.
While both parties are trying to manage the fallout from the committee’s failure, the biggest victim appears to be the credibility of Congress as a whole. This committee was deemed the last best hope around partisan divides, with lawmakers hoping that a quick deadline and tough penalties would force a deal.
Instead, Congress proved itself unworthy of even its single-digit approval rating — already an historic low.
Speaker of the House John Boehner — who lost a ton of credibility after the GOP rank and file rejected his initial plan to raise the debt ceiling — managed to avoid another embarrassment, but missed out on an opportunity to show that Republicans can make a deal with the other side.
President Barack Obama appears set to come out the winner of the failed committee. Republicans are criticising him now for staying out of the discussions (they wanted him out of them in August and September), but that leaves him far enough away from this mess to continue his re-election strategy of running against Congress.
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