“Could it really be that 12 able legislators will fail utterly at the most important task they’ll ever be asked to do?”
“Members of the ‘super committee’ charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts are focused on how to announce failure to reach a deal, Democratic and Republican aides confirmed to CNN Sunday.
“While aides said no final decision had been made, they acknowledged that — barring an unforeseen development — an announcement of no deal is the most likely scenario.
“Talks on trying to reach a deficit reduction agreement are essentially over and discussions are focused on a Monday announcement, a senior Democratic aide said.”
“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 concept of the supercommittee, as POLITICO’s Jake Sherman articulated in an email: ‘[I]f you put 12 serious members in a room, no distractions, easy way through the Senate [direct path for bill], they’d be able to get something.’ BUT THAT NEVER HAPPENED: The 12 members never had specific, hot-box, come-to-Jesus discussions. It was all white noise. Neither side was willing to jump first, and the two didn’t have the capacity to jump together…
“A Democratic aide had this eulogy for the supercommittee: ‘The worm has turned a little bit. The national conversation now is about income inequality and about jobs, and it’s not really about cutting the size of government anymore or cutting spending. 2010 gave one answer to that question. But 2012 will give another, and we’ve got to see what it is.'”
“Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said that ‘failure cannot be accepted’ on a deficit-reduction deal, and was critical of President Obama for not having taken a greater leadership role to assure a deal was struck.
“‘If it doesn’t work, then nobody’s done enough on this,’ Manchin said on CBS’s Face the Nation. ‘He’s the leader of this great country, and we want him to step forward.’…
“We can’t worry about the next election, it should be the next generation,’ Manchin said. ‘So yes, we want to see the president take leadership, the leaders in Congress do what they were put there to,’ he added.”
“Perhaps the Supercommittee was always set up for failure. After all, party leaders did not appoint a single member of the Gang of Six to their ranks, and the other members of the Bowles-Simpson Commission that were appointed—Co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Sen. Max Baucus—voted against its recommendations. They foolishly thought a better deal would emerge down the road.
“Now you’re hearing the same kind of cynical and self-defeating logic from hyperpartisan strategists on both sides who argue that no deal could actually be politically beneficial—allowing Republicans to keep their antitax purity while Democrats can campaign as the defenders of Social Security and Medicare. These voices peddle the fantasy that after the 2012 election—and their side presumably wins—that the nation will be liberated and a golden age of reason will emerge from necessity.
“This is the logic of a political crack addict, always begging for just one more election fix to make everything alright. That’s why it’s time for an intervention—a confrontational wake-up call from friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle, because this is rock bottom. The opportunity for real change is right now.
“We cannot kick the can down the road anymore.”
“We have a political landscape where it is possible to argue that the most conservative Democrats in Congress today are more liberal than the most liberal Republicans. There is virtually no overlap, no real party dissenters of the sort who were unacceptable to FDR, who wanted a party of ideological purity, and who were inexplicable to political scientists, who looked longingly at the ideologically disciplined parties in Europe and wondered why American parties so defied logic.
“But today, FDR and the political science establishment having had their way, the United States has its most ideologically aligned party system in modern history — and perhaps the biggest political crisis in modern history.
“Party caucuses always have reinforced party discipline, but for the first time both caucuses are enforcing ideological discipline as well. In the course of their work, lawmakers almost never encounter views that depart from their own, almost never form friendships with their political adversaries. If they don’t practice ideological compromise inside their own parties, they are less likely — less able — to practice it on the floor of both houses of Congress.
“‘We finally got ideological purity, and it’s a disaster for the country,’ says former Gov. Angus King of Maine, an independent. ‘We have ideological gridlock. You can’t solve problems this way.'”
“I don’t know what the impact on the market will be,’ Hensarling said. ‘I would hope there wouldn’t be an adverse impact in the sense that the American people are still going to get the deficit reduction that was contemplated under the law. But it is a huge blown opportunity, and as a nation, we are on borrowed time.'”