Rather than the opinions of individual pundits, here’s a roundup of what the editors of some of the nation’s largest newspapers had to say this week about the failure of the “Supercommittee.” Some blame Republicans, some blame Democrats, and most blame both.
New York Times: “The smoke from the smoldering failure known as the deficit “supercommittee” spread heavily across Capitol Hill on Monday, allowing Republicans to obscure the simple truth about the failure to reach an agreement. The only reason the committee failed was because Republicans refused to raise taxes on the rich, and, in fact, wanted to cut them even below their current bargain-basement level.”
USA Today: “Sad. Pathetic. Indefensible. It's hard to pick just one word to capture the collapse of Congress' latest effort to deal with the spiralling national debt. Not only did the inaptly named "supercommittee" fail to reach a big agreement to get the debt under control, members proved incapable even of meeting the panel's minimum goal of cutting $1.2 trillion in deficits over 10 years.”
Los Angeles Times: “Conceived in cowardice, Congress' deficit reduction "super committee" has lived down to expectations by failing to reach a bipartisan compromise. … Now, with an election looming, the possibility of change seems remote. That isn't just disappointing, it's shameful.”
Washington Post: “What next, now that the congressional supercommittee has failed? Depressingly, the answer is: not much, at least in the short term. Absent some intervening, cataclysmic event, the debt-reduction can has been kicked once again — this time, until after the election.”
New York Post: “The deficit-reduction effort that began earlier in the year — a 12-member panel was to identify $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, to be followed by an up-or-down congressional vote — was never anything more than a contemptible, cynical charade. … It was cover for a continuing congressional spending spree, while enabling individual members of congress to avoid being held accountable for their irresponsibility.”
Dallas Morning News: “The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — the supercommittee — was a hastily thrown together Hail Mary. It never really had a chance. … Instead of 12 statesmen working together to solve a problem, its members started and ended as two six-person teams motivated only by winning an argument.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch: “Much hot air has been expended, with much coming, about the failure of Congress' Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach an agreement to forestall $1.2 trillion in budget cuts beginning in 2013. … Ignore it all. Three words explain the supercommittee's failure and, indeed, much of the debt crisis itself: Bush tax cuts.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer: “The super letdown of the supercommittee's failure was its crash landing into partisanship. Democrats and Republicans spent much of Sunday and Monday crafting talking points to blame the other side. Yet it's as plain as day that each side's inability to make politically distasteful calls on spending and entitlement cuts, tax reforms and revenue increases killed this effort.”
Wall St. Journal: “So it's all Grover Norquist's fault. Democrats and the media are singing in unison that the reason Congress's antideficit super committee has failed is because of the conservative activist's magical antitax spell over Republicans. Not to enhance this Beltway fable, but thank you, Mr. Norquist. By reminding Republicans of their antitax promises, he has helped to expose the real reason for the super committee's failure: the two parties disagree profoundly on a vision of government.”
And, from our friends to the north and across the pond.
Globe & Mail (Toronto): “This morning, a small group of U.S. legislators should be announcing a plan to clean up their country’s fiscal mess. Instead, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “Supercommittee”) gave up, …The Supercommittee itself was a product of political failure, of long-standing fiscal problems, made worse by the recession, and record levels of political brinkmanship.”
The Independent (London): “The failure of the comically mis-named "super-committee" of Congress to come up with even the modest debt reduction package required of it has been a racing certainty for weeks in Washington. Nonetheless, Monday evening's admission of that failure – the latest proof of the dysfunctionality of America's political system – is not only shameful. It is also dangerous.”
Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor for Sojourners.