The winner here has to be President Obama. With a veto threat, he is holding Congress to the debt ceiling deal signed earlier this summer, averting the catastrophe of debt default. They signed the deal with the proviso - which they insisted on - that the deficit be reduced by over a trillion dollars, or else.
Republicans filled the airwaves with cries of needing to reduce the deficit all summer long. They insisted there had to be deficit reduction if they agreed to raise the debt ceiling. They have successfully branded themselves as the party of deficit cutting. Now the cuts are imminent, and suddenly they are backing away.
Apparently they want the deficit reduced, until it's actually about to be reduced.
This was an accountability moment for the Congress. It's not so much a dysfunctional Congress mired in partisan bickering, but rather a lackadaisical one uninterested in accomplishing anything. They used this exercise not as a good faith effort to reduce the deficit, but as a thinly veiled attempt to dismantle Social Security and reduce the tax burden of the wealthiest. They dicked around for weeks pretending to negotiate, all the while ignoring the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads that was the automatic triggers.
They had no intention of coming to any agreementnor did they have any intention of abiding by the agreed to automatic trigger cuts. After all, they're the Congress, right? They wrote the law, they can unwrite it, right? Once the Committee was about to expire, they started squawking about how 'draconian' the cuts to the defense department would be. Didn't they know that when they originally signed on to the deal? Or when they were feverishly (not) working to avoid them?
Those cuts were made 'draconian' for a reason. To avoid having to enact them! To find other things to cut instead!
It's bad enough that Republicans are scrambling looking for ways to undo the cuts, but now there is talk of some Democrats jumping on board, offering to help undo the cuts in exchange for extending the payroll tax cuts. Why? Why do they need to go there? Here's a thought - just extend the payroll tax cut! The Republicans dealt away their hand; Democrats (other than a few whose districts depend on defense contracts) have no reason to negotiate away these cuts.
Once again the Republicans show they could not care less about the deficit other than as a political tool to reduce the functioning of government, reduce and shred the safety net, and reduce their share of taxes even further. President Obama is vowing to stand firm by promising to veto any attempts to undo the automatic cuts. Why should he negotiate this.
Congress has the lowest approval rating in history at 9%. This Supercommittee has exposed them further as a do nothing entity, blaming their failures on partisanship.
They have been maneuvered into a no win situation. If they try to undo the cuts now, they will forfeit all their credibility as the party of deficit cutting. If deficit cutting is a positive (debatable of course) they have handed President Obama this issue. President Obama is the one who comes out of this looking like the one who is interested in reducing deficits. President Obama gets to be the one who can say he reduced the deficit.