Why The Super Committee Was Destined To Fail

November 21, 2011 11:22 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Now that the super committee talks have effectively collapsed, Republicans are aggressively spinning the group's failure as entirely the fault of Democrats. In addition to criticizing Democratic members of the committee, Republican leaders are also blaming President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for creating a process that was doomed from the beginning. 

This morning on MSNBC, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) declared that the super committee was "all devised by Harry Reid" because he could not come up the votes to pass another plan in the Senate. 

MCCARTHY: Remember, this was all devised by Harry Reid. This was all his idea and the process because he couldn't get 60 votes through. [...]

The challenge has always been in this Congress — has been what can the Senate do? The whole idea of why the super committee was created was Harry Reid. Because he could not get enough votes, so he wanted some super committee with only 50 votes to pass something, and Democrats could never come to an idea.


That's an awfully convenient recollection of the process that resulted in the super committee. As a refresher, congressional Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage in unprecedented fashion, threatening to create an economic disaster unless Democrats agreed to a massive deficit-reduction package consisting entirely of spending cuts. The GOP-controlled House passed intensely partisan bills, which the Democratic majority in the Senate rejected, leading to the ultimate "compromise" that created the super committee.

Whose fault is it that House Republicans, who control barely one-half of one-third of the federal government, played a dangerous political game and resisted any meaningful compromise with Democrats who still control the Senate and the White House?

Meanwhile, the super committee was destined for failure as soon as Republican leaders appointed as their representatives a collection of conservative ideologues who demonstrated complete ignorance — willful or not — of what created the deficit problem. The Republicans proved their doubters correct in recent days, as the negotiations unraveled over the GOP insistence on including costly and ineffective tax cuts for the wealthy as part of a plan intended to reduce the debt.