What Does The Super Committee’s Failure Mean?

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 21 2011 @ 12:45pm

Atrios doesn't understand why the $1.2 trillion dollar spending-cut trigger is worse than whatever the Super Committee might have dreamed up. It's worse because it's only a fraction of what needs to be done – and may not happen at all. Kevin Drum's spin:

Republicans got domestic spending cuts that were about as big as they really wanted. They know they'll never have to implement most of the defense cuts. And there are no tax increases. Given all that, why is anyone surprised that they were unwilling to seriously consider any alternative? Why should they when they already had what they wanted?

Ezra Klein worries about more than the debt:

The supercommittee was widely expected to extend the payroll tax cut and the expanded unemployment benefits. Those policies alone are expected to add 1-2 percentage points to growth next year. Some of the proposed deals included further stimulus measures like increased infrastructure spending, which would have given the economy a further boost. There was also talk of patching Medicare's payments to doctors and the Alternative Minimum Tax, neither of which is specifically a stimulus measure, but both of which would hurt the economy if allowed to expire now. The supercommittee's failure throws those deals into doubt. 

Given the GOP's total opposition to any serious net revenue increases, this failure was predictable. It's also a wretched sign of the Republican willingness – indeed eagerness – to torpedo the entire economy to defeat Barack Obama. For me, the key test will be the effectiveness of the trigger, especially on defense. If the Congress rescinds its own promise to cut defense and entitlements through sequestration after this failure, they're telling the world we're the same as Greece: incapable of putting our fiscal house in order. The needless tragedy of this country's right-wing intransigence would become a dangerous farce.