On the failure of the ‘Super Committee’

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction co-chairs Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., acknowledged this afternoon that their “supercommittee” has failed, issuing this joint statement:

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.

“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve. We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.

“We are deeply disappointed that we have been unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement, but as we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to express our appreciation to every member of this committee, each of whom came into the process committed to achieving a solution that has eluded many groups before us. Most importantly, we want to thank the American people for sharing thoughts and ideas and for providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task.

“We would also like to thank our committee staff, in particular Staff Director Mark Prater and Deputy Staff Director Sarah Kuehl, as well as each committee member’s staff for the tremendous work they contributed to this effort. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Douglas Elmendorf and Mr. Thomas Barthold and their teams at the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, for the technical support they provided to the committee and its members.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded:

“While I am disappointed, the House will forge ahead with the commitments we have made to reducing government spending and removing barriers standing in the way of private-sector job creation. Doing otherwise is not an option. This process did not end in the desired outcome, but it did bring our enormous fiscal challenges into greater focus. I am confident the work done by this committee will play a role in the solution we must eventually find as a nation.

“I commend both of the panel’s leaders, Jeb Hensarling and Patty Murray, for the dignified and statesmanlike manner in which the committee carried out its difficult negotiations. I want to particularly thank Jeb for the principled leadership and love of country he consistently has demonstrated in leading Republicans on the Joint Select Committee, as well as Dave Camp and Fred Upton for the countless hours they invested in this process for a noble cause.”

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said today that President Obama had wanted a plan that was “big, bold and balanced” between spending cuts and revenue increases, but “from day one, (Senate Minority Leader) Mitch Mcconnell and the Republican leadership said they would not put new revenues on the table.”

Miller said he never had “a lot of confidence it would work, but it’s part of a process” and that process’ next part is sequestration – $1.2 trillion in automatically triggered cuts, about half in domestic spending and half in defense, to be implemented at the start of 2013. “Now the question is, are we going to keep our word?”

If anyone in Congress moves to diminish those cuts, he said, President Obama should veto the bill – exactly what the White House promised today. “This was a bargain we made with the public – not my favorite bargain, but it’s what we said we were going to do,” Miller said. “Now, I think the point is, we need to stand by that.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, on KQED’s Forum this morning said Republican intransigence is to blame.

“(T)he sticking point from the very beginning was the announcement of Republicans saying that they had signed a pledge with Grover Norquist, and that revenues and increases of taxes for certain income brackets were off the table,” she said. “On the Democratic side, it’s not true that we didn’t support reform to the entitlements, to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. What the Democrats opposed was stripping away the guarantee and simply going to a voucher system. What I’m struck by is that the message that goes out, if the Committee doesn’t come up with anything today, is a pox on everyone’s house, and that the Congress can’t accomplish anything.”

“Here we are a can-do nation, respected around the world, and everyone really shaking their heads and saying what’s wrong with them. I think it sends a bad message not only to our constituents, but also the markets as well during a very tenuous time when our economy is as fragile as it is,” Eshoo said. “It seems to me that this Grover Norquist pledge is trumping the pledge that we take when we are sworn in as Members of Congress.”

More from the Bay Area’s voices in Congress, after the jump…

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“These talks failed for one reason – Republicans refused to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. Now we must follow the example of the Clinton years, when we balanced budgets and created 23 million new jobs by cutting smartly, investing wisely and ensuring that the wealthiest did their part.”

From Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont:

“I opposed the creation of a Super Committee from the get go. I don’t believe it is democratic to appoint twelve Members of Congress to a super committee and provide them the power to fundamentally alter America’s economic future while sidelining Congress.

“Given my opposition to the concept, I cannot say I am disappointed it failed. I don’t think it was destined to do so, but once Republicans drew their line in the sand, then it was all over. Republicans made clear that their price for negotiating was to extend tax breaks to the richest Americans so they would contribute less toward deficit reduction, while slashing Medicare and Social Security so that senior citizens — who can least afford to pay more — would foot the bill.

“It is time to ask the affluent to pay their fair share toward deficit reduction. The American public agrees with Democrats on this — and frankly, so do many of our most wealthy citizens. The Republican party is out of touch and that’s why the Super Committee failed.”

From Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose:

“Any effort to cut the deficit will fail as long as Republicans insist that repairs on our nation’s roads and bridges, research to drive American innovation and competitiveness, Medicare and Medicaid, social security for our grandparents, schools for our young, education for disabled children, Pell Grants for disadvantaged students and every other indispensible social program must be gutted to pay for tax cuts for the rich. It is the lone item of their tea-party controlled agenda and it is a road to nowhere.”

From Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma:

“The whole idea of a Super Committee was ill-conceived from the start. That’s one of the reasons I voted against the bill that created it back in August. It’s fundamentally undemocratic to empower just 12 members to make decisions on something as consequential as more than $1 trillion in spending. There are 535 of us in the House and Senate, each representing constituents who deserve a greater voice in this process.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR senile columnist

    Gotta hand it to Barbara Lee Don’t Speak For Free for invoking the greedy, selfish and omnipotent Rich for screwing up the spending debate . As long as the 1% have so much clout we humble folk ain’t got a chance .

  • Common Tater

    Got to hand it to all those lib democrats – they don’t seem to realize that the super-committee was a raging success.

    Taxes weren’t raised!

  • Elwood

    O’bummer is busily trying to transfer the blame for the stalemate from himself to the supercomittee.

    The only action he took was threatening to veto anything which came out of the committee which was not to his liking.

    Otherwise he was AWOL as usual. He did play a lot of golf though.