The not-so-super committee that was supposed to figure out how to reduce federal red ink by at least $1.2 trillion is about to fail in its mission. Republicans refused to allow increases in tax rates, Democrats refused to allow big cuts in entitlement programs, and you can figure out the rest. So, now that the Hindenburg has pretty much crashed and burned, who is to blame? You guessed it: President Obama!
That’s what Mitt Romney says, anyway. As a Republican hopeful of replacing Mr. Obama in the Oval Office, Mr. Romney has largely ignored his rivals and gone after the incumbent – and the apparent super committee failure has allowed him an opportunity to do what he’s been doing.
“He’s done nothing,” Romney said while campaigning in New Hampshire. “It is another example of failed leadership. He has not taken personal responsibility to get the super committee to find ways to balance the budget and cut spending.”
Politico has the full story on Romney’s criticisms here.
Was it really Obama’s fault? We suppose he could have pressed harder, hovered over the committee’s shoulder, metaphorically speaking, and done little else in recent weeks. But we’ve got a number of other observations about Romney’s claim.
First, Obama’s not actually a member of the panel. And to complain that a president hasn’t forced members of Congress to do something they don’t want to do is kind of like grousing that Obama hasn’t forced a herd of cats of run an obstacle course in record time.
Second, if Obama had managed to corral the super committee into an agreement, the odds are it would have been an agreement that Romney wouldn’t support. Obama wants tax hikes on the rich, Romney doesn’t, and so forth and so on.
Third ... what was that third point? It was right here. Oops, this is a Rick Perry moment.
However, Romney is not the only GOP candidate who is trying to make political lemonade out of a super committee lemon. New front-runner Newt Gingrich has released an ad that showcases his previous criticism of the whole super-thingy idea.
It includes a clip from a previous debate in which Gingrich says, “I think this super committee is about as dumb an idea as Washington has come up with.... What they ought to do is scrap the committee right now, recognize it’s a dumb idea, go back to regular legislative business, assign every subcommittee the task of finding savings, do it out in the open through regular legislative order, and get rid of this secret phony business.”
Hmm. This is the same regular legislative business in which the annual budget cycle hasn't actually been finished in years, right? Or all appropriations bills passed. Well, maybe it would work this time.
Meanwhile, Ron Paul – who is a front-runner in Iowa – goes mega on his criticism of the deal. He says the problem is that Congress isn’t doing enough. Cutting $1.2 trillion over 10 years is chicken feed, he says. What it really needs to do is cut $1.2 trillion per year.
“This shows how unserious politicians are about our very serious debt problems,” says Representative Paul.
Ouch. Maybe Jon Stewart is right: Paul really is the candidate who creates uncomfortable silences.