Cupcakes, not compromise, were all super committee could agree upon

So the super committee wasn’t so super after all. As it turned out it was just another much-hyped inside-the-Beltway bunch of pontificators who got all dressed up and said a lot of solemn and important-sounding words at the outset, then, when it was over, congratulated themselves for all their hard work, said they couldn’t agree on anything and went home for Thanksgiving.

There had been faint glimmers of hope that these 12 people, entrusted with what we’d been led to believe was the future of the republic, could in fact come to some kind of agreement. Early on, word was they had all agreed that, yes indeed, they liked cupcakes.

That was the day they celebrated super committee member Patty Murray’s birthday. But the debate quickly turned acrimonious over whether cupcakes are best served with black or sweetened coffee. The committee never came close to agreeing on anything again.

In other words, they did what Washington does these days. Nothing. They did nothing because Washington isn’t about governing. Washington is about being ideologically pure and being re-elected.

We shouldn’t expect much more. Leadership of the kind that at one time got things done in Washington no longer exists, either in Congress or the White House. Something tells me that, had the super committee been given its charge with Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill in office, the outcome would have been different. But that was then and this is now. Leadership in Congress and the White House is tepid at best.

Congress wonders why its approval ratings are in the single digits? The really sad part is, we’ll send most of these bums back next year.

The only real damage done by the failure of the super committee is what it might do to the country’s credit rating. It could lead to a further downgrade, which would be yet one more step down the road of the United States’ march from pre-eminence.

Any notion that the committee could have done anything to deal substantively with the nation’s debt problem was fantasy, anyway. By some credible accounts, every known federal tax would have to be nearly doubled — doubled — in order to maintain entitlements at their current rate of growth.

Raising taxes on billionaires may be a good idea, but it won’t solve that problem. Democrats who think otherwise are delusional. They’re cute. Give them a pat on the head and another cupcake.

We do know now, though, that tea partiers are willing to give up national defense if that’s what it takes to avoid compromise or raising taxes. The next time a bunch of radical Muslims decides to fly airplanes into a building or detonate a dirty nuclear bomb in Times Square or release some pathogen into the water supply of an American city, and we don’t have an adequate military to respond, we can thank those far-right Republicans who vowed never to compromise. We now know exactly where no compromise can lead.

You know who they are. To them, it was more important the super committee fail and 10 percent of the Defense Department budget automatically be cut than it was to compromise and agree to a single dollar of tax increases. That proves once and for all that they and their ilk have no clue how to govern and, worse, are irresponsible, if not dangerous. It also proves that, contrary to their simplistic and ill-informed claims, they have no idea what the founders they so like to think they channel had in mind for the young country they formed.

What the founders, I think, had in mind, were the proverbial smoke-filled rooms that served us so well for so many decades and now seem to be a thing of the past. What was in those rooms, in addition to the sweet aroma of smoke, was the good will among men (now, it would include women) of differing political persuasions, who were willing to put their political differences aside in order to hammer out agreements for the good of the country.

Cupcakes, it seems, are a sorry excuse for smoke.

Denny Herzog is the retired executive editor of The Daily Sentinel. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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