Why the Supercommittee Was Actually a Dazzling Success

| Sun Nov. 20, 2011 11:50 PM EST

The supercommittee has apparently officially declared failure, and all Washington is in despair. But I think Atrios has the right response to this:

So there's this bipartisan group of elected officials known as "Congress" that passed $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions into law. They also designated a random group of wankers to come up with some alternative $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions as a substitute. They didn't come up with a substitute. So we have the original path to deficit reduction as opposed to the potential substitute.

Why the press has mostly taken the position that some unspecified substitute would be better, or that cuts are implicitly good…

Right. We already have a plan to cut the budget by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. So who really cares whether there's a different plan to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget? Why isn't the existing plan good enough?

In any case, this should basically be viewed as a total victory for Republicans. Any alternative plan would have included some tax increases, so failure to come up with an alternative means that we get a big deficit reduction that's 100 percent spending cuts, just like they wanted. And the 50-50 split between domestic and defense cuts was always sort of a joke. Republicans never had any intention of allowing the Pentagon's half of the cuts to materialize, and the domestic spending half of the cuts was about as big as they wanted them to be. Big talk aside, they know bigger cuts would run the risk of seriously pissing off voters.

So Republicans got domestic spending cuts that were about as big as they really wanted. They know they'll never have to implement most of the defense cuts. And there are no tax increases.

Given all that, why is anyone surprised that they were unwilling to seriously consider any alternative? Why should they when they already had what they wanted?

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