Monday, November 21, 2011

Failure Is An Option

The headlines in various papers are telling of the failure of the Supercommittee to come up with an agreement to cut the budget by $1.2 trillion, which means that now all the dreaded draconian cuts to the budget will take place… in January 2013.

With the hours ticking away toward a self-imposed deadline, Congressional leaders conceded Sunday that talks on a sweeping deficit agreement were near failure and braced for recriminations over their inability to reach a deal.

The stalemate was the latest sign of partisan deadlock in Washington, which members of both parties do not expect to lift until the 2012 election has clarified which party has the upper hand.

Barring an unexpected turnaround before Monday’s deadline, the failure of the special Congressional deficit committee will be the third high-profile effort to fall short of a deal in the last 12 months, including a bipartisan deficit commission and talks last summer between President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner.

Nice try, but I’m not sure why anyone believed that this was ever going to work. To succeed, it would have required that the Republicans tolerate the idea of including tax increases, and we all know that was never going to happen. On the plus side, the Democrats stood their ground and didn’t cave to the threats and demagoguery of the Republicans.

There are a number of economists, including Paul Krugman, who are actually rooting for the committee to fail and for the Congress to do nothing. If so, the Bush tax cuts would expire in a year and that would mean more money — a lot more — coming into the Treasury. That would probably be the best outcome, and since the one thing the Republican-led Congress has proved time and again is their amazing ability to do nothing, that seems like the best way to go.