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Politico: Behind The Scenes Of The Super Fail

The is the Politico’s exegesis on the Super Committee’s failure:

Supercommittee meltdown: Behind the scenes

By: Jake Sherman and Manu Raju and John Bresnahan
November 21, 2011

… The three-month slog that was formally known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed because of a politically unpalatable mix of distrust, divided motives and the partisan toxicity in Washington. Its demise was widely lamented as a “missed opportunity” by lawmakers in both parties, but there were clear signs from the very start that it was going to be enormously difficult to find the “sweet spot” for a mega budget deal.

Despite public proclamations of optimism, the panel hadn’t formally met in weeks and some of its members had started to leave town for Thanksgiving this past weekend

According to the Politico’s Mike Allen: "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."

And, according to the Reuters article we just posted, the supercommittee’s "first meeting was on September 8, the next three weeks were taken up with discussions over how many meetings should be held, and when and where."

[T]he final curtain fell after Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) made a last-second proposal calling for several hundred billion dollars in new tax revenue, with the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees working out the final details — including the top tax rates. Republicans swatted the offer away as way too little, way too late

Sure. We are supposed to believe that the Republicans rejected Kerry’s plan because it had too little in new tax revenues.

The supercommittee began with bipartisan meetings and secrets kept behind closed doors, and while fresh stories of bipartisan friendship emerged from this panel, the new bonds were not enough to overcome the institutional gridlock.

Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) — the tax chairmen from both chambers — worked closely together. Kerry and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) went on bike rides, and the two men spoke for the better part of the past four days on the Democrats’ last-ditch tax plan. Kerry occasionally invited members of the group to dine with him at his Georgetown home, and members would negotiate over Legal Sea Foods and Cosi sandwiches

The Reuters article gave us similarly absurd touching details.

In mid-October, with just five weeks until their deadline, each side produced “wish lists” to show where they were negotiating from.

Aides were shocked with what those demands looked like.

House Republicans wanted to repeal Obama’s health care law, implement the controversial House GOP budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), save $700 billion by block granting Medicaid, cut $400 billion in mandatory spending, slash another $1.4 trillion in other health care mandatory spending, save $150 billion by slicing the federal workforce and put a $60 billion cap on tort reform.

This sounds pretty sensible to us.

Republicans were no more pleased to see what Democrats wanted: the president’s $447 billion jobs bill plus well over $1 trillion in new taxes.

Remember, we were told at the time this super committee was announced that it was supposed to reduce spending. Not increase taxes.

Days later, Baucus went before the group to offer what Democrats considered major concessions: a $1.3 trillion plan to cut spending, including from health care entitlements, combined with a $1.3 trillion plan for new tax revenues. Things got heated quickly when Kyl offered a series of objections. Democrats later made the case that Kyl was a serious impediment in the talks, but Kyl said the GOP was giving ground – not the Democrats…

And Mr. Kyl was right.

Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell held frequent meetings to make sure their six GOP negotiators remained united. And they tried to make the case that the absence of White House engagement — combined with an apparent lack of coordination between Reid and Pelosi — ensured that Democrats on the panel were divided on some key issues.

Indeed, Baucus engaged in a number of private discussions with Republicans, most notably with Camp. GOP insiders said Baucus initially seemed open to a final $1.5 trillion plan proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) but ultimately backed away

After he was taken to the woodshed.

In fact, Republicans were worried that Democrats would accept the Toomey framework, which included $250 billion in new revenues, and the two sides would get into a bidding war over tax increases.

Reid, who helped conceive the supercommittee, thought a deal was possible up until a Nov. 15 meeting in the speaker’s office, when the Senate majority leader came away thinking that Boehner couldn’t reconsider key elements of a “grand-bargain” deal he discussed with Obama during the debt ceiling fight.

According to Reuters, Messrs Boehner and Reid "met for just 15 minutes – and the work of the debt panel was barely mentioned."

In the thick of the negotiations, Reid, too, recalled the days when deal makers could bridge the partisan divide. He visited Ted Kennedy’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery with former Sen. Chris Dodd. Dodd poured some whiskey on Kennedy’s grave while Reid recited a prayer, the majority leader told lobbyists at a meeting, according to attendees. He told the group that he missed both men

God help us.

By Saturday, Boehner was in Florida. Reid was caring for his sick wife. Other supercommittee members had left town.

Reuters also reported that some of the super committee members left town to start their Thanksgiving vacation last weekend. Which, is exactly what we had surmised. That was their real deadline.

So they sure were really ‘super committed’ to fixing the deficit, weren’t they?

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “Politico: Behind The Scenes Of The Super Fail”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    In other news the NFL will do something different for the Superbowl in January of 2012. Instead of the two teams battling it out on the gridiron, they will select 6 members from each side to go and negotiate who will win and claim the title of “world champs” by NLT August of 2012. One can see the obvious advantages of such a contest. No fighting the crowds at the stadium, no pesky advertising negotiations and no actual tackling, pass rushing, blocking or having to actually move that silly little ball up and down the field.

    No, the commissioners of the NFL have decided that instead of letting the game play out as it should under the established rules and guidelines set forth for the past hundred years or more, they decided that only hand-picked team members who have their own teams best interests at heart would gather to decide the winner. Criticism that this will result in a draw or a “tie” are unfounded as the NFL is known for its dedication to fairness and desire to compromise during any and all games.

    Some fans are irritated that the very spirit and essence of competition and the very reason professional football exists at all has been usurped and made pointless and have started watching more golf and European football commonly known as “soccer”. “At least those guys are actually in it to win”, said one former NFL fan.

    However, the NFL believes that this new way of playing the game is more fair, more likely to result in a desirable outcome and is a real time-saver for those who spend hours in front of the TV every Sunday. Said one NFL commissioner, “It’s just gotten ridiculous. So many games on Sunday…right into the evening til very late. Then there’s Monday Night Football and also Thursday. It’s just too much. We decided to follow what Congress is doing by paring down the players and setting a time limit on when the game has to be finished and getting rid of all the nastiness that has plagued the game for a century. We think it’s a better way to go. Those who disagree with it are just backwards-thinking relics of a bygone era. I mean, who needs all these players and all these stadiums and such? It’s a huge waste of time and money. We’ve made it far simpler. Rulebook? Phagh! That thing is as useless as a car with four flat tires. This is the new way things are going to be done now.”

  2. Mithrandir says:

    “Days later, Baucus went before the group to offer what Democrats considered major concessions: a $1.3 trillion plan to cut spending, including from health care entitlements, combined with a $1.3 trillion plan for new tax revenues.”

    …Um, by my math, -$1,300,000,000,000 + $1,300,000,000,000 = $0.

    “Republicans were no more pleased to see what Democrats wanted: the president’s $447 billion jobs bill plus well over $1 trillion in new taxes.”

    Again, $447,000,000,000 + $1,000,000,000,000 = $1,447,000,000,000 in democrat voter pay-offs just in time for 2012. Don’t want any of those reliable voters to be angry unemployed non-voters.

    If nearly 16 Trillion dollars (in debt) wasn’t enough on top of the regular revenue sucked-out of the capitalist economy every year, then NOTHING will ever satisfy the festering tumor looking for new blood supplies, that is Washington D.C. What a horrible bunch of people this is, to demand MORE SPENDING to stop the run away spending…..crazy man…..crazy. I have ZERO hope that this country will receive anything more than TOTAL COLLAPSE and disintegration of the American way of life.

  3. BigOil says:

    Our media is touting the super committee as a failure – but one could logically conclude it was a success.

    What do we know? In the last 50 years, the federal budget has not been decreased. This latest ‘budget cutting’ deal will simply re-prioritize continuously increasing spending over the next decade.

    Our side of supposed deficit hawks agreed to this deal. Therefore, I would conclude we are getting what was intended, which is what we have always gotten…bigger government.

    Hard to see how this ends any other way than by self correction. Economics will determine the ultimate fate of our federal monster.

  4. bobdog says:

    Who didn’t see this coming?

    It was about as serious as Harry Reid’s last budget or Obama’s Jobs bill.

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