Discussion of the "super committee" debacle continues to misguide and misinform the public in an all-too-familiar way. Once again the consensus in the media and among political leaders reflects the misperceptions of an insular Washington culture, rather than the economic or political realities of most Americans.
The Republican and Democratic co-chairs said today that "we end this process united in our belief that the nation's fiscal crisis must be addressed." That's how this exercise in misplaced priorities ends: With a "bipartisan" statement about the urgency of our "fiscal crisis" -- deficits -- rather than our massive and much more immediate economic crisis of jobs and stagnating wages. And with that, the media onslaught begins. Now we'll see hundreds of new headlines screaming that the committee "failed."
What we won't see are headlines explaining what really happened: That this failure was inevitable; that it reflects the wishes of most people, Republicans as well as Democrats; that Occupy Wall Street played a large part in the outcome; that Republicans never intended to compromise and Democrats shot themselves in the foot; that this "failure" will be good for most businesses -- and for the rest of us too; or that a misguided and right-leaning consensus turned leaders of both parties into cheerleaders for ill-timed budget cuts even as the economy continued to burn down all around them.
Here are seven more accurate -- and more eye-catching -- headlines you won't see in your major media outlets.
OCCUPY MOVEMENT WINS MAJOR VICTORY
Unpopular 'Super Committee' Deal Stymied by Popular Opinion
Democrats tried. They really tried. They were ready to accept deal points that the polls -- and their hearts -- should have forced them to refuse: Benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. A permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. A deal that was heavily weighted toward spending cuts, rather than revenues, even during an economic crisis.
They might have done it, too, except for one thing: The Occupy movement has changed the subject from the Washington-driven theme of deficits to the economic hardships faced by most people in this country. Sure, the Tea Party is getting credit (yes, I said "credit") for killing a disastrous deal, and it's true that it played an important role.
But so did the Occupy movement. There was talk of occupying Congress, and even occupying the "Super" meeting's meeting space in the now-infamous Room 200. A march and rally is scheduled for tomorrow, and an Occupy group walking from Wall Street to Washington is scheduled to arrive the day after tomorrow.
Democrats who signed on to this deal were going to feel the wrath of the 99%, and there's no way they couldn't have known it. People who have spent the last two years wishing that they had a Tea Party of their own, one that would pressure Dems the way the Tea Party pressures Republicans, can now rest easy. It's here. And it's changing things.
The moral for Democrats? Embrace jobs and growth, not cuts and austerity. You'll thank yourself next November. And some Republicans will probably thank you, too, as you'll see from the next headline.
GOP VOTERS HOLD "EXTREME" VIEW OF CUTS -- EXTREMELY "LIBERAL," THAT IS
"Left" Anti-Super Committee Views Supported by Almost 3 Out of 4 Republicans
We're already hearing that the unwillingness of some Democrats to sign on to cuts in Social Security and Medicare -- the few, the proud, the real Dems -- is a sign of "ideological rigidity on the extreme left." Pundits are referring senators like Bernie Sanders and Representatives like the members of the House Progressive and African-American Caucuses.
Extreme left? Their position is supported by three out of four voters -- Republican voters, that is. A new poll confirms what previous polls have shown: Once voters have these proposed deals explained to them, they hate them.
Nearly three out of four voters are against changing Social Security's cost of living adjustment (COLA), as the White House and some Democratic super committee members were prepared to do. That includes 70% of Republicans and 78% percent of seniors, who turn out to vote in larger numbers than other age groups.
The next time somebody says these Democrats were being too ideologically rigid, ask them what's wrong with representing the party's rank and file. Especially when that includes other party's rank and file too.
GOP 'COMPROMISE' HOAX SPREAD BY PRESS, PUNDITS
Supposed "compromise" was actually more extreme than ever
It seems almost unkind to point to this piece by Ruth Marcus, who said last week that she was "uncharacteristically optimistic" that the Committee actually would reach a deal. Then we're reminded that she writes for the Washington Post -- the newspaper for the Federal government's "company town."
Why was Ms. Marcus optimistic? Because, as her headline reads, "Republicans were (making) room for tax increases after all." Why? Because far-right Sen. Pat Toomey and far-right Rep. Jeb Hensaerling were rhetoric from their "no new taxes" rhetoric and offering, in her words, "a deal that included -- gasp! -- a net increase in tax revenue from the current level."
She added: "I don't mean this in a disrespectful way, but pigs are flying here, folks."
Flying? No. Squealing? I wouldn't say that -- too disrespectful. But why the enthusiasm from Ms. Marcus? Because, she says, "he once-sacred principle of not raising taxes -- any taxes, ever -- has been breached."
But it hadn't been. As she herself is fair enough to point out, Republicans were still offering a tax cut, given that Bush's cuts are due to expire. And the deal they offered wasn't a cut for most Americans -- only for the wealthiest among us. They were actually proposing another slashing of the high-end rate, which is scheduled to go back to 39+%, down to 28%. In return they were offering "revenues" -- by eliminating tax deductions the middle class depends on, especially in these difficult time.
Ms. Marcus and dozens of other commentators have successfully pushed the idea that "both sides were willing to compromise," but were stymied by "extremists" in their own party. Not true. Extremists run the Republican Party. And as for the Democrats ...
DEMS DEMAND TO GO ON RECORD AS WANTING TO CUT SOCIAL SECURITY, MEDICARE
Party Leaders Deny Defending Popular Programs, Insist They Were Prepared to Gut Them
There's a great narrative for the Democrats here, if they're willing to take it: We said 'no' to cutting your benefits to protect rich people. Instead they're insisting on making it clear to the American people that they did no such thing.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that it was Republican intransigence on taxes, not Democratic willingness to bend on these programs, that scuttled the deal. Combined with Carney's past statements supporting that unpopular COLA cut, that means the Administration is still on record as saying it wasn't prepared to defend these benefit from cuts that the public despises. Instead, Carney bemoaned the GOP's refusal to sign on to a 'grand bargain' that would have done exactly that.
The Democratic super committee members were even more flatfooted. "If we fail to do this it will define 2012 going forward," Sen. John Kerry said last week. That's insisting on defining a victory -- "We defended your benefits from the party of the rich!" -- as failure.
If Dems had any illusions that Republicans wouldn't use this against them, they should already have been dispelled. "It is another example of failed leadership," said Mitt Romney. "[Obama] has not taken personal responsibility to get the super committee to find ways to balance the budget and cut spending."
Which gets us to our next headline.
WASHINGTON MOURNS MISSED CHANCE TO ENSURE A 'LOST DECADE'
Leaders lament lost opportunity to inflict ten years of economic misery
"The austerity measures being rolled out in countries across Europe will have a devastating effect on the living standards of its population," an economist told CNBC Friday.
"These reforms are going to be devastatingly impacting (sic) on the population in these countries. We are looking at a decade of lost living standards across most of Europe."
The economist, James Shugg from Westpac, added that austerity measures, while "part of the solution," will only "deepen the downturn." Here's the problem: They're only "part of the solution" because no one in Washington seems willing to address our real economic problems in a genuine way.
And the fact is, they won't work. Savvy business people know that.
BUSINESS LEADERS CELEBRATE SUPER COMMITTEE FAILURE
At least they won't make things worse, executives say.
We keep hearing that "business" wants these cuts, but that's only true for the mega-corporations and billionaires that dominate the Washington conversation. What do the other businesses say, the ones that hire people and help to grow the economy?
"Demand drives business, not tax cuts," said Lew Prince, said the managing partner of a St. Louis music store. "I hire more workers if I think I'll do more business." Austerity cuts means a stagnating economy. That means people don't buy as much as they once did at Lew Prince's store. And that means fewer jobs.
Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chairman of the American Sustainable Business Council, was even more blunt: "I'm sick of people who wrecked the economy and their defenders in Congress blaming others for killing jobs. The high-end Bush tax cuts are a big part of the problem ... We need revenue for real job creation and economic renewal, not more job-killing budget cuts, job-killing corporate tax dodging and job-killing millionaires and billionaires not paying their fair share of taxes."
Real business leaders know what's needed in their world, the real world: investment in growth and jobs. Both parties chose to focus on the secondary problem of deficits once again, and they did so knowing that the GOP's primary goal is to sabotage Obama, not solve problems.
Which gets us to our last headline:
IN SURPRISE DEVELOPMENT, TERRIBLE IDEA DIDN'T WORK OUT
Pundits, Washington leaders today expressed surprise and dismay at failure of unpopular committee to agree on widely-hated cuts
There's no need to elaborate, is there? Some stories just write themselves.