A Super-Flopping Super-Committee? Who Saw That Coming?
The Congressional “Super-Committee” — you know, the one assigned with averting a series of deep, across-the-board cuts to everything including defense spending, cuts that many would prefer to avoid — will apparently acknowledge what many of us long suspected: There is no form of deficit reduction that will satisfy Republicans like Pat Toomey and Democrats like John Kerry. (I always preferred the term “Überkomite” or the term in its original Russian, “Politburo.”)
Mike Allen, the guy who writes that other morning newsletter, reports, “The supercommittee last met Nov. 1 — three weeks ago! It was a public hearing featuring a history lesson, ‘Overview of Previous Debt Proposals,’ with Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles, Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin. 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 supercommittee: There was Republican posturing and Democratic posturing, with some side conversations across the aisle . . . The official deadline for action by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. The real deadline is Monday night, since any plan has to be posted for 48 hours before it’s voted on. So conversations this weekend revolved around how to shut this turkey down. Aides expect some ‘Hail Mary’ offers on Sunday, and there’s something on the stove that could be inoffensive to both sides. But the committee may not even have a fig-leaf agreement to announce. Total, embarrassing failure. The markets and the country will hate it.”
Over at The New Republic, Tim Noah marvels that we’re getting detailed accounts of the committee’s failure several days before the deadline: “This is testament, I guess, to Politico’s slightly insane commitment to getting the news before it happens; to Allen’s particular skill at doing so; and to the heretofore unacknowledged apparent reality that the super committee was pretty much destined to fail from the beginning.”
I think William Jacobson assesses it well: “Negotiations never were going to resolve conflicting visions of the role and expansion of government. Only elections can resolve those competing visions. So there likely will be no deal. No big deal. It sets up the competing visions of our country’s future quite nicely for November 2012. The electorate can choose Greece if it wants, but I don’t think it will do so.”
But the developments have Dave Weigel stunned, and he may need to put his head between his knees to deal with the shock to all he knows: “Still trying to wrap my head around the idea of Congress failing at something.”