The Washington Post

Supercommittee wins “Worst Week in Washington”

It may only be Tuesday but the supercommittee’s failure to agree on, well, anything makes it a runaway winner for our “Worst Week in Washington” award. (Plus, this is a holiday-shortened week so Tuesday is the new Thursday.)

In this Sept. 13, 2011, file photo the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction meets to hear from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf about the national debt, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a story arc familiar to Washington Redskins fans in recent years, the congressional “supercommittee” — the 12-member panel tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts by Thanksgiving — began with a sense of hope against impossible odds, only to devolve into the finger-pointing when faced with failure.

That failure was, ultimately, surprisingly predictable. With the 2012 election looming over the proceedings, neither side (half were Democrats, half Republicans) had any political incentive to make a deal. Republicans refused to budge on their desire to extend the Bush tax cuts, fearful of a tea party rebellion. Democrats, in turn, saw that refusal as a conversation-ender.

Months passed and rumors flew that a deal might be in the offing, but the basic disagreements never changed from the day the committee went super until Monday, when co-chairs Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) issued a joint statement acknowledging defeat.

“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve,” they said. (Can kicked down the road? Check.)

A vicious game of spin began, designed to cast blame on the other guys while admitting no fault for your team. President Obama blamed Republicans “who have refused to listen to the voices of reason,” while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) lamented that Democrats “would not accept any proposal that did not expand the size of government.” Good times!

The supercommittee, for confirming everything we knew about why Congress is broken, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.


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