It’s hard to see how the Super Committee can possibly reach a consensus by this time next week after Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling’s appearance on CNBC Tuesday night. The short version is that he left the ball in Democrats court, and hinted that if the committee fails, Congress will spend the next year or so trying to change the terms of an automatic penalty to make sure that hundreds of billions of cuts to defense programs never take effect.
Hensarling claimed that if the committee recommended even a dollar of new net tax revenue — the kind of revenue Dems are demanding — it would constitute a step in the wrong direction. He said a GOP plan put forward by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) — one which Republicans claim would raise revenues by nearly $300 billion over 10 years, but would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent — is as far as Republicans are willing to go on revenues. But that’s an offer Democrats flatly rejected as unserious. And unless one of the parties breaks cleanly with its publicly stated position, the committee will either fall well short of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years as required by law, or will fail altogether.
The Super Committee was never going to reach a deal, and the cuts were never going to happen. As long as Republicans can filibuster in the Senate and/or control the House (and right now they can do both) nothing substantive will get done legislatively. Ever. It's designed to fail, because the GOP assures it will. That nine percent approval rating doesn't matter because 85%-90% of Congress will get re-elected even in a "wave election" year like 2008 and again in 2010. It's the same thing.
It's depressing, but true.
Meanwhile, Jeb Hensarling is running around saying that the Democrats have to give him 100% of what he wants, and then he'll maybe decide what he and the GOP can deign to give back. But as usual, their starting position is complete victory or else.
Same as it ever was.