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Posted at 09:02 AM ET, 11/14/2011

The Morning Plum

* Why a supercommittee deal looks less and less likely: This week will be dominated by the likely failure of the supercommittee to reach a deficit deal, which will set in motion a whole round of political maneuvering, handwringing about possible downgrades, and efforts to avoid the defense cuts that are supposed to be triggered by a deadlock. As of yesterday, doubts were growing that differences can be bridged, given the latest status of the talks:

Republicans have offered a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package that would cut spending by about $750 billion over the next decade while raising about $500 billion in revenue, including about $300 billion in new taxes. Democrats have offered to trim borrowing by $2 trillion, with that sum equally divided between spending cuts and tax increases.

If I’m reading this correctly, Democrats are offering a deal that includes significantly more in deficit reduction, and significantly more in spending cuts — two things Republicans want. The Dem condition for this deal is that spending cuts and tax increases be equal in amount. But that’s a nonstarter. Republicans are offering a deal that reduces the deficit less and cuts spending less than the Democratic offer. The GOP offer does seem to raise taxes (though details are in short supply), albeit by far less than spending would be cut.

Yet some fiscal conservatives view even this posture by Republicans as a sign of weakness on their part, meaning that from their point of view agreeing to any revenue increases at all, even at far lower levels than the level of spending cuts, is tantamount to surrendering. What this says is that conservative observers of the process simply don’t view a compromise in which both sides make major concessions as a desirable outcome. They are hoping for a rerun of the government shutdown and debt ceiling debacles, in which the consequences of failure were so great that Democrats had to give enormous ground while getting little in return.

Combine this pressure from the right on Republicans not to compromise at all costs, with the fact that Democrats have less of an incentive to give Republicans everything they want this time around in order to avert a deadlock, and it’s clear why the supercommittee appears headed for failure.

* Dem and GOP leaders alike fear supercommittee failure: Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner appear to be taking an active role in the talks, all of them fearing that a bad deal will rebound badly on them politically and anger key constituencies.

Key footnote: While conservative pressure is intense on supercommittee Republicans not to compromise at all costs, Dems also are under pressure from the left not to give ground on entitlements cuts, meaning Dems simply must extract massive concessions from Republicans in order to make any such cuts politically palatable.

* No, government regulation doesn’t really increase unemployment: Must read of the morning: An interesting and nuanced look at the dispute over government regulation from Jia Lynn Yang, who concludes that regulation leads to some job loss — and some gain, meaning the overall impact is minimal. Also, a key point that keeps getting lost in the discussion: There are good reasons for government regulation of the private sector:

The critique of regulations fits into a broader conservative narrative about government overreach. But it also comes after a string of disasters in recent years that were tied to government regulators falling short, including the financial crisis of 2008, the BP oil spill and the West Virginia mining accident last year.

* Labor to partner with Occupy Wall Street to pressure Congress: The AFL-CIO and the SEIU will partner with Occupy Wall Street for “day of action” protests this Thursday designed to pressure Congress to act on unemployment, in particularly with more infrastructure spending.

What remains to be seen is if labor leaders can succeed in tying the protests to a wider working class constituency, at a time when national right wing groups are working to alienate blue collar whites from the protests and the populist message they embody.

* Occupy Des Moines gears up for Iowa caucuses: Organizers now claim they expect at least several hundred Occupy protesters from around the country to descend on Iowa in the week leading up to the state’s January 3rd presidential caucuses.

The reaction of the GOP candidates will be very interesting to track. Prediction: Outright condemnation of the protesters will be confined to those candidates who know they don’t have a prayer of winning the GOP nomination and are instead running to build followings among GOP base voters.

* Taking the long view of Occupy Wall Street: An absolute must-read from Jeffrey Sachs, putting the protests in the context of American history and explaining how their message is starting America on a “path to renewal” akin to the reforms implemented during other periods of historic inequality:

The progressive era took 20 years to correct abuses of the Gilded Age. The New Deal struggled for a decade to overcome the Great Depression, and the expansion of economic justice lasted through the 1960s. The new wave of reform is but a few months old...Those who think that the cold weather will end the protests should think again. A new generation of leaders is just getting started. The new progressive age has begun.

Also, Sachs says it: The American people agree with the protesters.

* The real meaning of Rick Perry’s brain freeze: E.J. Dionne writes the column I wish I’d written explaining what Perry’s brain freeze really tells us about modern conservatism:

Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government.

The selection of entire government departments for elimination is wholly arbitrary — it doesn’t matter which ones Perry could remember and which he couldn’t — and not rooted in any effort to actually evaluate the consequences of governing decisions.

* Michele Bachmann’s debate performance: David Atkins (fixed) notes that her claims about eliminating the entire social safety net and replacing it with a Chinese model have broader implications:

At some point the pearl clutchers and bipartisan fetishists are going to acknowledge that there is a political civil war in this country, that the right wing is going off the rails at an accelerated pace, and that these people represent a grave threat to democracy should they ever take power again.

Of course, this would require pointing out that one side is more to blame for the other for the direction our discourse and country have taken, so it won’t happen on any widespread scale.

* More on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital: Ben Johnson sums up the latest Romney Bain relevations: “Romney’s Executive Style: Fire Workers, Acquire Debt.”

* And Crossroads GPS is paying no price for airing nonstop falsehoods: To date, only a single cable system has pulled a false add from Rove’s Crossroads. Steve Benen makes an important point: As TV networks continue to air ads amplifying demonstrable falsehoods, groups will continue to degrade the discourse with impunity.

What else is happening?

By  |  09:02 AM ET, 11/14/2011

 
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