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Congress: Blame it on Bush (tax cuts, that is)

“A long-running war between Democrats and Republicans over Bush-era tax cuts doomed the debt supercommittee's chances of reaching a deal. Efforts to overhaul the tax code may await the same fate as both parties gear up to make taxes a central issue in 2012 election,” the AP writes.

“The supercommittee’s failure is being viewed widely as a debacle — yet another sign that Washington cannot overcome partisan politics to deal with the nation’s record deficit,” The Hill writes. “But the stalemate hasn’t been a political nightmare for everyone in Washington. Politically, the deadlocked talks have yielded both winners and losers, from lawmakers who openly rooted against a deal to those who said failure was not an option.” 

“The unfortunate demise of the congressional super committee wasn’t accompanied by nearly the drama and hand-wringing of this summer’s debt-ceiling disaster, but its passing is more fuel for the fire of public disillusionment and anger toward Washington and Congress. With record-low job-approval numbers, disenchantment with Congress can still intensify,” Charlie Cook writes in today’s National Journal. “The real showdown will be late next year, when the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush expire and New Year’s 2013 triggers draconian sequestration budget cuts. That’s when lawmakers will realize that there really is a loaded gun pointed at their heads. Under various post-election scenarios, including lame-duck sessions, both sides will want to avoid deep cuts to their most cherished priorities. In particular, Republicans will be desperate to extend the Bush tax cuts. The real showdown and real drama will come after all of the 2012 votes are counted.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R) defended his role in the Super Committee process in an op-ed in USA Today, saying, “I did everything possible.” Instead, he blamed President Obama and Democrats for wanting to raise taxes on the wealthiest. “[T]he so-called supercommittee was unable to reach agreement because President Obama and Washington Democrats insisted on dramatic tax hikes on American job creators, which would make our economy worse,” Boehner writes, adding, “I am not going to give up on the country, and neither will my Republican colleagues.”

The Wall Street Journal: “So it's all Grover Norquist's fault. Democrats and the media are singing in unison that the reason Congress's antideficit super committee has failed is because of the conservative activist's magical antitax spell over Republicans. Not to enhance this Beltway fable, but thank you, Mr. Norquist. By reminding Republicans of their antitax promises, he has helped to expose the real reason for the super committee's failure: the two parties disagree profoundly on a vision of government.”