Lack of interest from the ratings agencies: Much of the supercommittee’s early urgency came from Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States’ credit rating. Since then, it has become clear that the major rating agencies don’t much care what the committee does or doesn’t do. “At this point there is little reason to believe that either S&P or Moody’s would downgrade solely based on a failure to agree,” Goldman Sachs said in a recent analysis. “Both rating agencies have indicated that while a stalemate in the supercommittee would be negative, they expect $1.2 trillion in planned deficit reduction to materialize through automatic cuts if not through the supercommittee, so their fiscal outlook should remain unchanged.” The one exception is if the supercommittee fails and the trigger is pulled. In that case, they might act.
Lack of interest by the White House: For most of this year, the White House has thought that the surest path to President Obama’s reelection was to strike a big deficit deal with Republicans, or at least be seen trying to strike a big deficit deal with Republicans. The debt-ceiling debacle proved it wrong. The White House was unable to reach an agreement, and the sorry sight of its ineffectual efforts led it to sink in the polls. Since then, it has moved toward a more confrontational stance with the GOP, and has seen its poll numbers tick up slightly. So White House officials do not consider a supercommittee deal crucial to their chances. Perhaps that’s for the best, as the Democrats on the supercommittee think it would be harder to secure Republican support for a deal if the White House were more involved.