It’s Not the Committee, It’s the Republicans

Yes, I know there are always 2 sides to every question (sometimes more). But the failure of the supercommittee—the supposed grownups in the room—to reach a budget deal is a one-sided failure. The standard public and media response to blame both sides for not working together is flat out wrong. The responsibility for the failure of the supercommittee falls on the same Republican shoulders as the failure of Congress to do anything constructive.

Partisan rhetoric? Well, I’m certainly partisan, but that phrase makes sense only when the conclusion is wrong. And I’m not wrong. Simple proof: absolutely everyone knows what “working together” means, it means “I’ll give you some of what you want, if you let me have some of what I want.” Any disagreement here? Show of hands? I don’t think even Michelle Bachman could deny this particular segment of reality. Give a little to get a little is not only the core of politics in a democracy, but it’s the way we negotiate through our interactions with everyone—family, friends, work, etc. “Ok, we can have Thanksgiving at our house, but you have to pick up mom and bring dessert and drinks.”

So in this supercommitte failure, who was willing to give a little to get a little? If the answer is “neither side” then I’m engaging in partisan Republican-bashing. Well, let’s see. In short, the biggest bone of contention comes down to this: Democrats want to preserve social programs (eg, Medicare, Social Security) and raise taxes on upper income people, and Republicans want to cut social programs and not raise taxes on anyone. Did the Republicans offer to accept some increase in taxes in return for less severe cuts to social programs. No they did not. Did the Democrats offer to accept cuts in their favorite social programs in return for some increase in taxes? Why, yes they did. Not only in the supercommitte but for the past entire year of the budget debate.

So, the evidence is clear that Democrats have continually been trying to practice normal political (and human) interaction and the Republicans have not. This is a unilateral failure on the part of Republicans to participate in the democratic (small d) process. They want to come over for Thanksgiving and have you cook, serve them and clean up while they sit on the couch watching the game and drinking your beer. They scowl if you ask them to move their feet so you can clean up the crumbs they dropped. Blaming both sides is simply a cop-out, a failure to think clearly in the face of an obvious problem. Come to think of it, that’s the Republican failure as well.

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