Safe for now

There are increasing signs that the Super Committee won’t reach a deal. This is great news, because no deal means no cuts to Medicare and Social Security, and presumably less likelihood that we will implement dramatically more destructive austerity in the middle of an economic downturn.

Reports coming out indicate that the individuals involved are expecting failure, and most of the news coming from Super Committee members seems more about publicly shifting the blame than trying to actually get a deal.

This afternoon Politico is reporting that the two sides still are not close to a deal with the deadline fast approaching.

Top lawmakers expressed increased skepticism Thursday morning about the prospects of any bipartisan deficit compromise, as time rapidly is running off the clock before a statutory deadline of Nov. 23 to cut $1.3 trillion from federal spending.

From leadership to members on the so-called deficit-cutting supercommittee, there’s a game of rhetorical jousting going on in the Capitol, just five days before the panel must vote on a proposal to avoid across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon and federal spending.

On Tuesday the Washington Post reported that the White House was bracing for failure.

White House officials are quietly bracing for “supercommittee” failure, with advisers privately saying they are pessimistic that the 12-member Congressional panel will find a way to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit as required.

In public, however, the official administration stance is that failure is not an option.

If the Super Committee does fail to reach a deal by the deadline next Wednesday, that would be a victory for those hoping to defend Medicare and Social Security. This Super Committee is a big danger to our social safety net, and was designed to make it as easy as possible for Congress to cut Social Security.

The failure of the Super Committee will not guarantee the protection of our social safety net. This is, by my count, at least President Obama’s fourth attempt to get a “grand bargain” to cut entitlements, so there is no reason to believe he will stop trying now. But the failure of the Super Committee would push any new attempts to get a bipartisan “grand bargain” into next year; and as the 2012 election gets closer, the possibility that both parties will agree on anything becomes even more remote.

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