TIMOTHY NOAH NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Oh no! Have you heard? The super committee may not come up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts by its Nov. 23 deadline! Even after the Republicans on the committee made the extraordinary, nay, unprecedented concession to include taxes in the deficit-reduction package. Their plan would raise $600 billion in revenue. That is, until you factor in extending all the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts, which is a condition of the deal. When you figure that in their plan "raises" -$3.1 trillion in revenue. Or, if you think it's unfair to count the parts of the Bush tax cuts that Obama wants to keep, it would "raise" about -$2 trillion in revenue. Oh, and they want to drop the top marginal rate (currently 35 percent and set to rise on Jan. 1 to 38.6 percent) to 28 percent, too. But hey, this is a really big step for them! What's maintaining a progressive tax code and lowering the long-term budget deficit compared to reassuring skittish Republicans that Grover Norquist puts his trousers on one leg at a time?
This is only a slight caricature of what the press in general, and the Washington Post in particular, has to say about the super committee negotiations. Yesterday the Post had a hissy fit because the stock market wasn't trembling at the thought that the super committee might fail. Today the Post's Neil Irwin and Ylan Q. Mui say, "If the super committee misses its Thanksgiving deadline, the deliberations could cast a cloud over the crucial holiday shopping season, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of sales for some businesses." That's right. The super committee just might cancel Christmas. The Post has apparently given up on the stock market as an indicator and decided, based on zero evidence, that failure by the super committee will cause consumer confidence to tank. Tomorrow they'll assess its potential effect on global warming.
Hilariously, the Post has also put up on its home page a sort of super committee doomsday clock. As I write we are 8 days, 7 hours, 51 minutes, and 49 seconds away from the super committee apocalypse. Sound the klaxons! Get me Jill St. John in a bikini! The underwater compound's gonna blow! A-woo-ga! A-woo-ga! Or, if you prefer a more contemporary text, here is one of Saturday Night Live's running "MacGruber" skits. Laugh if you dare.