The Supercommittee won’t "work" unless everyone wants it to

Politico reports that the Congressional party leadership has been interfering with the operations of the Supercommittee.  This all just illustrates how dumb the Supercommittee was.  Or at least, how dumb it was to expect that some procedural gimmicks would somehow create a bipartisan consensus for deficit reduction.  This is wrong.  There is no majority of Congress that can agree on substantive means to reduce the deficit – I’m going to go ahead and plant my flag on this, that any Supercommittee deal that passes Congress will rely mostly or entirely on tricky accounting.

Anyway, the point is that if there IS a Congressional majority to be found on deficit reduction, you won’t get there without the intimate involvement of leadership.  Leadership’s failure to find such a majority in the debt ceiling fiasco strongly, strongly suggests the majority just isn’t there.  Furthermore, I think it’s very obvious that the instant the Supercommittee deadlocks, hawks will launch an intense campaign to stop the defense cuts in the “trigger”.  They will almost certainly succeed.  Interest groups will also probably lobby hard on behalf of the Medicare provider cuts too, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they succeed too.  The flat truth is that the evidence suggests that no Republican in Congress is sufficiently devoted to the idea of deficit reduction to give up even a single concession in pursuit of that goal.

What this does illustrate, however, is how smart Barack Obama was in negotiating the Supercommittee as a way to end the debt ceiling deadlock.  He got a reprieve from economic disaster and handed away approximately nothing.


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