Obama’s management by default – supercommittee failure
It's not my default
I think the President appreciates the auto-trigger. With that, he doesn't leave his fingerprints.
His passive style, turn-away, get-away when the going gets tough has become a hallmark.
Ezra Klein nails it today in the Washington Post Wonkbook.
“The supercommittee's failure was finalized yesterday, and so today is the day we figure out who to blame. President Obama was clear in his remarks last night: The gridlock was the Republicans' fault. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of the supercommittee, is clear in the Wall Street Journal this morning: the Democrats deserve the blame. My colleague Michael Gerson, meanwhile, says it was Obama.
If by "at fault" we mean "unwilling to compromise," we can do better than listen to the self-serving remarks of the players. We can look hard at the movement in the actual plans. Before the supercommittee, there were the Obama-Boehner negotiations. And we have a pretty good idea of the plan that almost -- but didn't quite -- clear those discussions. We also have the deals on the plans that were offered in the supercommittee. And if you look at the numbers, it's pretty easy to see which party moved further towards a compromise.
Hint: It's the one that named Sen. Max Baucus as one of its six key negotiators.
The final Boehner plan envisioned tax reform that would generate $800 billion in new revenues and bring the top rate down to 35 percent. In the supercommittee, the highest Republicans ever got on taxes was the Toomey plan's $300 billion, with envisioned a top rate of 28 percent. So on taxes, it's fairly clear: The supercommittee Republicans were far to the right of Boehner.
On the Democratic side, Obama eventually insisted on somewhere near $1.2 trillion in tax reform or, if the revenues were to move lower, on much less in entitlement cuts. In the supercommittee, the Democrats offered a plan (pdf) with less than a trillion dollars in tax reform -- and more entitlement reforms than Obama was willing to agree to.
Boehner had about $150 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts in his opening bid in the negotiations with the president, and he went down from there. In the supercommittee, Baucus offered $200 billion in Medicare beneficiary cuts. Supercommittee Republicans were far beyond that, however. If you read Hensarling's op-ed today explaining why the committee failed, he complains that Democrats were too focused on tax increases but also that they refused to gut the Affordable Care Act or embrace "architectural changes" like turning Medicare into a premium-support system. You can support those policies or oppose them. They're not exactly compromise plans, however.
Frankly, it's hard to find even one area in which supercommittee Republicans offered a substantially new compromise -- or even matched what Boehner offered Obama. Which perhaps makes sense. A Pew poll (pdf) earlier this month asked whether, "on the federal deficit, lawmakers who share your views should stand by principles, even if no progress is made," or "be willing to compromise, even if it means a deal you disagree with." Among Democrats, 74 percent chose compromise. Among independents, 67 percent chose compromise. Among Republicans, only 52 percent chose compromise. And the 38 percent who chose principles amassed a pretty good record in 2010 of primarying politicians who betrayed them.
One can argue whether the supercommittee truly failed. Perhaps you like the trigger and August's discretionary cuts, or you think it would be better to address the deficit problem after the next election. But if the question is whether the Democrats or the Republicans moved further in the direction of a compromise, there's no doubt that compared to the last set of negotiations, the Democrats moved right and the Republicans moved further right.”