Who is to blame for the failure of our glorious experiment in government engineering, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction a.k.a. the supercommittee, to meet the public's desire for trillions of dollars in spending cuts and tax hikes that the public doesn't want? Our best guess is that it's the supercommittee that is to blame for the failure of the supercommittee. Others would disagree!
This is a strange bird, in the field of congressional Fail science. The public has no desire for the clumsy austerity the supercommittee was hoping to sends its way, but it also doesn't want to go through the national humiliation of watching Congress — after inventing a debt crisis out of thin air, then going out of its way to produce a threat of voluntary debt default, then solving that by crafting a legislative derivative vehicle that would inflict punishment on itself if it didn't solve its invented debt crisis by Thanksgiving — fail at this latest thing it chose to do, and then proceed to remove the punishment on itself. This, the last seven months of congressional activity, has been performance art, right? If so, hats off to the folks who came up with that hilarious idea to play hyper-politics with a routine debt ceiling hike; this has been one hell of a show.
And it's nowhere near done! Here's the next phase, in which the failed supercommittee members and their colleagues think that anyone wants to hear them talk:
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Democrats offered Republicans expedited procedures through the slow-moving Senate to move a tax reform deal, but even that was rejected.
Reacting to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who spoke before him, a visibly angry Kerry said that the committee was not created to cut taxes, calling it "just nonsense" that Democrats demanded major tax increases without offering significant concessions on entitlement cuts.
Who could've predicted that things would fall apart along these fault lines?
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said in a statement that the looming failure of the supercommittee is an "embarrassment" to Congress – an institution that is already suffering single-digit approval ratings in recent public opinion polls. But the freshman lawmaker also took aim at the Obama administration.
"I find it appalling that grown adults cannot sit down at a table and find a way to negotiate something so important to the future of this nation," West said, adding that Obama "stood by and [did] nothing to encourage bipartisanship among this committee."
Added Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) on Twitter: "Looks increasingly likely the Super Committee will fail in its charge to find $1.2 trillion in savings/reforms. Where's Pres. Obama? AWOL!"
I like that Vicky Hartzler tweet so much that what the hell, I'm going to show it again: "Looks increasingly likely the Super Committee will fail in its charge to find $1.2 trillion in savings/reforms. Where's Pres. Obama? AWOL!"
Everyone just lighten up. If they can't reach a deal then maybe it's not an emergency problem after all. Leave this one until after the election at least. If Republicans win, then they can pass their all cuts, no taxes plan. If Democrats win, then they can get their mostly cuts, some taxes plan filibustered by Republicans and replaced with the Republicans' all cuts, no taxes plan. There's a whole lot at stake in this election.
[Image via AP