Countdown to Super Committee failure: T-minus six days

posted at 7:10 pm on November 15, 2011 by Allahpundit

I figured we should have a post about this for the three readers who are still taking it seriously. Box: Checked.

The Budget Control Act, enacted last August to put an end to the debt-ceiling crisis, prohibits the Supercommittee from voting on a plan that has not been made available to the public and to the Congressional Budget Office for 48 hours before the vote.

Boil this down and do the math. This means that in order for the Supercommittee to reach a majority vote by midnight Nov. 23, members need to come up with a plan and make its language public by midnight Nov. 21. In other words, by next Monday.

Further complicating the tight deadline is the need for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to score the proposal before the 12-member Supercommittee puts it to a vote.

CBO says it’ll score this one quickly for the Committee, but even so, they probably need at least a weekend to run the numbers. That means the true deadline for submitting a proposal is Friday. Are the two sides close enough to make something happen before then? Given that Boehner and Reid are now being dragged into the negotiations in desperation, I’m thinking … no, probably not.

Still, there are an unusual number of gears turning inside this smoking, clattering contraption, so it’s worth paying some attention to it as it starts to fall apart. The first, obviously, is fiscal. Panetta’s warnings of a Pentagon meltdown have grown increasingly dire, which makes it impossible to believe that the automatic cuts will be allowed to go into effect. I don’t know what The One was thinking in talking tough about protecting them last week; if Congress sends a bill to his desk rescinding them, he’ll be forced either to cave or to cut Panetta off at the knees.

The second gear is economic. A Super Committee breakdown would likely increase the negative outlook on U.S. debt, but if Congress then goes ahead and rescinds the automatic cuts on top of it, it might prompt another immediate downgrade. (Which, of course, explains why President Downgrade is chilly to the idea of undoing the cuts, notwithstanding the effect on defense.) What that would do to markets, nobody knows. Probably nothing given that treasuries would still look safe relative to European debt given the tremors in the Eurozone, but possibly a few banks would start to wobble. How lucky do you feel?

The third gear is political. The reason the GOP’s been keen to compromise by offering $300 billion in new revenue (via ending certain deductions and closing loopholes, not via raising rates) is because I think they’re worried about Obama gaining traction with the “obstructionist Congress” narrative. Remember, more than one poll last week showed that a chunk of the public, including many indies, believe Republicans are blocking O’s agenda in hopes of sinking the economy for electoral advantage. That’s a lethal meme if it catches on, so they’re countering it even by having Boehner speak out publicly in favor of new revenue at the risk of alienating Norquistians. (Rep. Bob Goodlatte went so far as to tell ABC today that accepting a small tax hike now might be worth it in order to avoid the large tax hikes that might inevitably result later.) The problem here is the Dems have less to lose from the Committee’s failure than the GOP does. The Pentagon cuts will hurt hawks more than doves, the lack of any tax reform means the Bush tax cuts will still be on schedule to lapse, and of course they’ll get to keep pushing their narrative about obstructionist Republicans. Even if no deal is reached, the GOP needs the public to understand that they tried really hard, which explains all the revenue messaging lately.

And of course the fourth gear is institutional. Congress’s approval rating is already down to 13 percent, a record low. They’ve spent the past year bogged down in deadlocks, first on the annual budget and then on the debt ceiling. If even the Super Committee — the mechanism they designed to break the deadlock — deadlocks, it’ll shake the public’s faith in Congress even more deeply than it already has been. And if that deadlock comes paired with rescission of the automatic cuts, it’ll mean that their big effort to put a dent in spending actually ended up increasing spending by lifting cuts that were set to take effect. It’ll be pure farce, and total despair for fiscal conservatives. I’m not sure what would be worse — a clean collapse or the new half-assed compromise idea for the Committee to agree merely on numbers for new revenue and spending cuts and then send the matter back to congressional committees to fill in the blanks. That’s the equivalent of a punt returner catching the ball and then free-kicking it right back. Exit question: How much more embarrassing can Congress get before we start hearing people talk seriously about constitutional reforms?

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

I’d love some constitutional reforms – like term limits, balanced budget with GDP & tax hike limits, Commerce clause limits, changing the electoral college to an equal vote for each state, etc, etc, etc.

MidWestFarmer on November 15, 2011 at 7:17 PM

The third gear is political.

And this is the gear they are in. No shifting.

They will deliver a crap sandwich, the press will herald it as truly courageous, and live will go on.

Yes, color me cynical.

davidk on November 15, 2011 at 7:17 PM

life

davidk on November 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM

I think I rather have a clean collapse at this point

The gop will be bashed irregardless of the outcome

cmsinaz on November 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM

The GOP will cave, and there will be creative Enron accounting to make it look like the Congress actually did something about the budget.

Wethal on November 15, 2011 at 7:20 PM

I think I rather have a clean collapse at this point
The gop will be bashed irregardless of the outcome

cmsinaz on November 15, 2011 at 7:18 PM

—————-

Which is exactly why the naive fools on the Republican side should have NEVER RAISED the debt ceiling in the first place!

Mahdi on November 15, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Gosh. And to think, these people are so much smarter than the American voters. I can rest easier, knowing that our elite leadership is working diligently to resolve these dilemmas.

Jeddite on November 15, 2011 at 7:24 PM

How much more embarrassing can Congress get before we start hearing people talk seriously about constitutional reforms?

Don’t need to reform the Constitution – we need the Congress and the President to do their jobs as already prescribed, sans the handoffs to extra-governmental super-committees.

whatcat on November 15, 2011 at 7:24 PM

There is no solution to this dilemma except the removal of Barack Obama as President, all his appointed, like minded advisers, and the democrat party neutered by voters at the ballot box. Until that happens, nothing changes.

Skandia Recluse on November 15, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Harry Ried: “My members still think they can get something done”

Right Harry, how’s that budget coming along???

Rovin on November 15, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Which is exactly why the naive fools on the Republican side should have NEVER RAISED the debt ceiling in the first place!

Mahdi on November 15, 2011 at 7:23 PM

Excellent point.

Tim Zank on November 15, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Failure to come to an agreement will get blamed on the Republicans. The media will happily continue the narrative to the next election.

Logboy on November 15, 2011 at 7:30 PM

They could fund the deficit just by handing over all of their ill gotten gains from their insider trading.

Scumbags.

karenhasfreedom on November 15, 2011 at 7:30 PM

If John Heinz Kerry is involved, you know it is doomed. How about that yacht of his that was berthed elsewhere to avoid Mass taxes. Oh, and where was that yacht built…I think I’m correct that it was not by Union Thugs?

No Heinz products in this house. There are 2 bottles of fine scotch left: one for Hanoi Jane and one for Kerry. The one I had for Murtha went down easy.

Dingbat63 on November 15, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Get rid of the supercommittee. It’s superfluous anyway. Let’s take this debate into 2012!

milemarker2020 on November 15, 2011 at 7:32 PM

showed that a chunk of the public, including many indies, believe Republicans are blocking O’s agenda in hopes of sinking the economy for electoral advantage

Time to educate yourselves, people, this is America and there’s no excuse for being ignorant.

Bishop on November 15, 2011 at 7:35 PM

next up. Super Duper Committee?????

ted c on November 15, 2011 at 7:37 PM

Exit question: How much more embarrassing can Congress get before we start hearing people talk seriously about constitutional reforms?

Hey, that might be something someone could run for POTUS on.

SlaveDog on November 15, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I don’t have any confidence in these jokers. I imagine they’re spending most of their time in talks with brokers figuring out what effects their decisions will have on their portfolios and how they can enrich their own coffers.

scalleywag on November 15, 2011 at 7:42 PM

super duper fo foofer mee my mo moofer.. Suuuu per.. committ eee.

maineconservative on November 15, 2011 at 7:46 PM

That’s really super, Supergirl.

John the Libertarian on November 15, 2011 at 7:47 PM

next up. Super Duper Committee?????

ted c on November 15, 2011 at 7:37 PM

And then, the Super Duper Turbo Committee.

SlaveDog on November 15, 2011 at 7:48 PM

How much more embarrassing can Congress get before we start hearing people talk seriously about constitutional reforms?

The majority of the country thinks they are a bunch of worthless self-serving feckless rumps, and still nobody talks about reforms. Perry is the only candidate I’ve heard talk about term limits and making them part-timers, but of course no one will take him seriously now, so that won’t go anywhere.

scalleywag on November 15, 2011 at 7:50 PM

O/T: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-nominee-social-security-board-favors-rationing-health-care<a

I hope my first ever link works! A bit of a frightening link.

herm2416 on November 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

There is no solution to this dilemma except the removal of Barack Obama as President, all his appointed, like minded advisers, and the democrat party neutered by voters at the ballot box. Until that happens, nothing changes.

Skandia Recluse on November 15, 2011 at 7:25 PM

The GOP has complete control of the purse right now and won’t use it. They are part of the problem and Obama is just the latest and worst offender, not the only offender.

sharrukin on November 15, 2011 at 8:17 PM

This is working exactly as planned by Obama. The Republicans were owned and set up during the debt ceiling debate. They had the a ton of political cover with the whole country in agreement that the debt issue had to be taken seriously and, as usual, allowed themselves to be snookered by the Dems. The outcome of this commission was utterly predictable from day one.

neuquenguy on November 15, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Harry Ried: “My members still think they can get something done”

Right Harry, how’s that budget coming along???

Rovin on November 15, 2011 at 7:26 PM

How can the biggest do-nothing Senate (and for that matter democrat-controlled house for the majority of Obama’s term) in history sell the “do nothing Republican congress” meme? Unfortunately they can, and will.

neuquenguy on November 15, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Unfortunately, the GOP Leadership is scared to death of the media, Obama and, most of all, losing their jobs. Nothing will get decided until next November. We have two diametrically opposed views of liberty and governance at loggerheads. The only thing the GOP could accomplish right now would be to attempt to jam Reid and Obama with massive budget cuts. Which will shut down the government. Which means Granny on disability doesn’t get her home O2. Which causes the markets to crater. And the MFM will blame it all on us. The “defense cuts” are a joke. I was in the Navy. There is such stupendous waste and stupidity in the DOD that $60 billion a year could be done without breaking a sweat. Fire a couple of hundred thousand bureaucrats, lose 80% of the useless paperwork that unit commanders have to perform every month and reform the procurement process with the Admiralty Boards of old. In the meantime, play nice and organize.

DocinPA on November 15, 2011 at 8:35 PM

Any panel with Kerry on it is a joke to begin with. What do you get on Turkey day? Turkeys.

Hummer53 on November 15, 2011 at 8:43 PM

It is time for The Hundred Monkeys Congress.

One hundred monkeys, one hundred keyboards, in a large room for one hundred days.

They will produce a piece of legislation that is superior to whatever our current congresscritters can come up with.

And they won’t be concerned with getting re-elected.

platypus on November 15, 2011 at 8:44 PM

herm2416 on November 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

herm — the link takes me to weekly standard, but it’s a page not found. Also, try blocking some of your text and clicking the link button above the comment box, you can embed that way (unless you’re using an iPad 2).

John the Libertarian on November 15, 2011 at 9:13 PM

Picture this…..

…….America has a modern day Lenins tomb. It’s called their financial irresponsibility. This SUPER Committee is our version of a Ruling class Politburo.

There they all stand impotent (just like the Soviets in the late 1980′s) witha strong military but with a fig leaf of financial power and economic muscle.

Who knew we’d be headed down the same road just a generation later.

Que the Soviet national anthem and imagine Kerry in that Ruskie hat.

:-(

PappyD61 on November 15, 2011 at 9:32 PM

herm2416 on November 15, 2011 at 7:53 PM

herm — the link takes me to weekly standard, but it’s a page not found. Also, try blocking some of your text and clicking the link button above the comment box, you can embed that way (unless you’re using an iPad 2).

John the Libertarian on November 15, 2011 at 9:13 PM

It is to WS, a story about the newest nominee to run Social Security. Okay, I really need to practice linking again!
*heavy, heavy sigh*

herm2416 on November 15, 2011 at 10:11 PM

JohntheLibertariaan,

Maybe that is my problem, I am using an iPad 2. Are the mechanics different?

Hope springs eternal that I’ll be able to link successfully some day in the near future!

herm2416 on November 15, 2011 at 10:15 PM

The idea of a super committee is just plain dumb. Nothing is going to come out of this. Why did they agree to do this?

Mirimichi on November 15, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Congress’s approval rating is already down to 13 percent, a record low.

Why stop there? Why not go for zero percent!

I have a feeling that those fiscally irresponsible morons don’t understand what 13% approval rating means… Hell, most of them don’t understand what a ~ $15 trillion debt means, either!

They must have learned math in a unionized public school.

Danny on November 16, 2011 at 12:27 AM

The committee was designed to fail. Look at the left side of the aisle: John Kerry, kept man, imbecile, buffoonish liar; Max Baucus, drunk liberal serving in a conservative state, imbecile; Patty Murray, widely believed to be the stupidest person in the Senate.

What was anyone supposed to achieve with these three nitwits?

Jaibones on November 16, 2011 at 7:09 AM

. (Rep. Bob Goodlatte went so far as to tell ABC today that accepting a small tax hike now might be worth it in order to avoid the large tax hikes that might inevitably result later.)

That’s how they treat diabetes. They only cut off your toes today. Next month they hack off your foot.

Mr. Grump on November 16, 2011 at 8:56 AM