The “Failure” of the Super Committee
November 22, 2011
OK, so it is being trumpeted everywhere, the Supercommittee has “failed.” In the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, the headline is “Super frustration, super failure.” The people on the Supercommittee could not reach an agreement over what to do about the budget and this is, everyone agrees, a failure, even a failure of overwhelming significance.
But it is worthwhile, as it always is, to question the conventional wisdom, here, that this result represents a “failure.” In the first place, this seems slightly illogical to me, to conclude that the lack of an agreement is a failure, at least from the point of view of the members of the committee. They know that public opinion of them and of the government is at an all time low. So, why would they then tolerate such a result? Surely it would have been possible to reach some kind of an agreement and, from the public response, almost any kind of agreement would have been better than no agreement.
Ah, but isn’t that the point? Think about it: Conventionally speaking, there is this “Supercommittee” – so called – convened for the purpose of finding that apparently elusive “middle” which would provide some kind of solution, partial or not, of our current budgetary “problems.” On this Supercommittee are, apparently, people who know what they are doing and who are, allegedly, committed to serving the public interest, the common good, above all else. Now, however, we are “told” that even the people on this Supercommittee cannot reach an agreement about what to do and what are we to conclude? My bet is that what we will be told to conclude is that our problems are so huge, so complex, so intractable that it will require the most serious kind of effort to “solve” them. Because, after all, the Supercommittee couldn’t solve them and if the Supercommittee cannot solve them then they must be immense.
For me, this is all a set-up and was a set-up since the creation of this Supercommittee. In fact, for me it is not too much to say that this committee was created for the purpose of “failing” because by failing the Supercommittee has cleared the decks for policies that will serve the few at the expense of the many but will surely be presented to us as our “last, best hope.” The logic will be: “Hey, no one wants to do these things but what choice do we have? Even the Supercommittee could not agree! We have no choices here, people. We all have to sacrifice.”