|By Darrell Delamaide|
— The supercommittee to cut the deficit was a bad idea, and its failure is a good thing for America.
Pundits are having a good time picking winners and losers after this latest chapter in the ongoing debt debacle, but it’s fairly obvious.
Congress — not just the congressional leaders, but each and every lawmaker — loses again, for trying to kick the can down the road and abdicating their responsibilities by creating the supercommittee in the first place. Voters should remember this next November.
Winners in this case are the American people and the democratic process, because the attempt of a small minority with unlimited funds to foist on the nation an anti-tax agenda that is inimical to the interests of the middle class was foiled.
Given that the supercommittee was never going to agree on something truly reasonable and helpful, like letting the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush expire, no agreement is the best result we could hope for.
The supercommittee has failed and the sky didn’t fall, Treasury yields are not skyrocketing, and inflation continues to be nonexistent. Imagine that.
There are real problems in the world — the collapse of the euro, the all-but-certain prospect of recession in Europe, sluggish growth and high unemployment in the U.S. — but the deficit isn’t one of them.
What about jobs?
The urgency to cut the deficit was an artificial crisis fomented for ideological reasons that have nothing to do with fiscal responsibility and everything to do with reducing taxes on the wealthy. Deficits aren’t the problem, jobs are, and what we needed was a supercommittee on stimulating job creation.
Sadly, the failure of the panel chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas) to cut the deficit won’t do anything to help the economy, but at least we have been spared the harm that would have surely resulted from any “compromise.”
Another recent failure — that of a House Republican leadership increasingly out of touch both with reality and the electorate — to get a balanced-budget amendment passed should also be celebrated. Even though it was just more political theater from that same ideological minority, every triumph of reason in this disreputable Congress should be welcomed.
The amendment garnered only 261 votes in the House on Friday, well short of the 290 needed to pass it with a two-thirds majority and down dramatically from the 300 votes a similar proposal obtained in 1995. A balanced-budget amendment is always a bad idea, and more legislators are coming to realize this.
Look to Europe
Why these failures should be celebrated is clear from the euro’s death spiral. Fiscal hardliners in Europe have the upper hand and are undoing 50 years of European integration by blindly following this benighted ideology.
Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland face a much tougher constraint than a balanced-budget amendment through being shackled to a common currency that’s designed to favor Germany. The insistence by Berlin that these countries impose draconian fiscal austerity to pay for Germany’s prosperity is driving the Continent into recession — including, of course, Germany.
Voters are coming to realize how misguided their elected leaders are. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are seeing their poll numbers drop, but somehow the bulb doesn’t go on in their heads.
Instead, in Europe, they have abdicated political responsibility and put “technocrats” — the same bloodless technicians who crafted the disastrous euro scheme in the first place — in charge of sorting out the mess. They will have as much success as our supercommittee.
It’s a sad state of affairs. Europe and the U.S. are now looking at a new recession, continued high unemployment, and increasing political turmoil as restive voters make their frustration known.
How all this will play out now in the 2012 electoral campaign remains to be seen. Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is getting high-level endorsements that would seem to make him the Republicans’ frontrunner, even though polls say otherwise.
President Barack Obama’s completed a successful Asian trip notable for his tough stance on China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea. It would still seem that the presidential race is taking shape as a contest between these two men.
What impact the dramatic failures of Congress will have is another question. Despite the efforts of the Republican leadership to kowtow to the aggressive tea-party minority, the GOP is riven still between extremists and conservatives, leaving moderate Republicans and independents wondering whom to vote for.
It would seem to offer an opening to Democratic candidates, but with the media narrative being dominated by Republicans, that’s difficult to discern.
In the meantime, no champagne, but a quiet celebration is in order over a couple of bullets dodged.