Start Spreading the Word: The Super Committee Will Fail

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The day for making excuses is upon us, as members of Congress begin alerting the Washington press that the 12-member Super Committee will miss its Nov. 23 deadline. To allow scoring for the Congressional Budget Office, the committee needs to submit a bill that finds $1.2 trillion in deficit savings by Monday and a number of lawmakers speaking with Politico, The Hill, and The Washington Post say they don't think it's going to happen. These are the different factors some lawmakers aren't holding out hope for a last-minute deal:

The far right and far left actually like the trigger Anti-tax groups and liberals have warmed to the idea that the trigger, which imposes across-the-board cuts evenly between domestic spending and defense spending if the committee fails to reach an agreement, is better than a potential deal. The Hill quotes House Financial Services ranking member Barney Frank as saying, “Rather than a bad deal from the supercommittee, I would prefer a situation in which we had the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and sequestration and we could then work those two together — use revenue from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the very wealthy as a way of moderating the blow of sequestration.” Democratic Senator Tom Harkin says “We can maneuver those [automatic cuts] around, and quite frankly, that might be the better path to take." Meanwhile anti-tax lawmakers such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul would rather see cuts instead of an increase in taxes. “We promised cuts. And I think we need to have cuts,” he said.

Democrats see an advantage to waiting Politico reports that "Democratic and Republican leaders have begun to spread word among colleagues that they believe the Super Committee will fall short of its goal to find $1.2 trillion in cuts." For Democrats, the urge to act now is simply not there. "Some Democrats say they would have more leverage to force Republicans to consider taxes as part of a debt-reduction deal as that tax increase — one of the largest in U.S. history — drew closer. Republicans, aware of that tactical disadvantage, have fought to extend the Bush tax cuts as part of supercommittee negotiations."

There's no crisis The Washington Post reports that "the absence of an imminent crisis helps explain the lack of urgency on Capitol Hill this week, despite a Thanksgiving deadline approaching. With a vast ideological gulf separating the Republican House and the Democratic Senate on taxes and social spending, a mere deadline may no longer be enough to spur compromise. Over the past year, Congress has needed the threat of full-scale chaos to force action." The paper cites the government shutdown, which spurred a deal in April as an example. 

Congress would prefer to wait until after elections Politico reports that "members of Congress increasingly believe that voters, not politicians, will send a clarifying message on who’s wrong and who’s right on the great fiscal crisis." The paper speaks with liberal Senator Sheldon White House who says “We have one [election] coming up in a year, and it gives us a chance in this democracy to have the American people decide — do they want us to cut Social Security?” said the Democrat. “Is that what you want us to do? Do you really want us to cut Medicare benefits? Is that what you really want us to do?”

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.