When Occupy Wall Street protesters decided earlier this month to embark on a two-week march from New York to Washington, their aim was to protest the supercommittee’s then-likely decision to retain the Bush-era tax cuts.


Occupy protesters write on a sidewalk along their march from New York to Washington. (Elizabeth Flock/Washington Post)

Fast-forward nearly two weeks, and the supercommittee is widely being declared a failure. And Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the panel’s Democratic co-chair, is blaming it all on the Bush tax cuts. Murray on CNN’s State of the Union  this morning:

There is one sticking divide, and that is the issue of what I call shared sacrifice... That’s the Bush tax cuts, and making sure that any kind of package includes everybody coming to the table and the wealthiest of Americans, those who earn over a million dollars every year, have to share, too. And that line in the sand, we haven’t seen any Republicans willing to cross yet.

Throughout the march, Occupy protesters repeatedly said they expected the tax cuts would be retained. So, why march a blistering, painful 240 miles to Washington anyway?

“It’s the day before Thanksgiving. But it’s also the day the supercommittee does something naughty!” Michael Glazer, a co-organizer of the march, declared in an address to protesters several days before they arrived in Washington. “We need to be there.”

The march’s other co-organizer, Kelly Brannon, said it was simple: “We are spreading direct democracy to cities and small towns as we march, which could someday eliminate problems like the supercommittee altogether.”

In direct democracy, people collectively make decisions for themselves (as Occupy protesters do in their General Assembly meetings) instead of having decisions decided by representatives (such as the 12 lawmakers that make up the supercommittee).

Whether Occupy’s vision for the future is a plausible one or not, many say the supercommittee’s failure has heightened the debate over those tax cuts. The Washington Post’s Peter Walsten writes:

[The supercommittee failure] makes December 2012 the next critical deadline in the budget wars, with Obama, safely reelected or acting as a lame-duck president, wielding a veto pen with the power to return tax rates to Clinton-era levels.