Washington Extra – Blame to go around

November 23, 2011

As much as President Barack Obama tries to distance himself from the failure of the congressional “super committee” to make a long-term deal on cutting the deficit, a good chunk of voters may hold him at least partially responsible.

A Reuters Ipsos poll shows the blame for the failure shared fairly equally among the political parties and the president. Just over one in five respondents (22 percent) blame all three (Democratic and Republican lawmakers as well as Obama) the most — slightly more than the 19 percent who blame both parties’ lawmakers but not the president.

For 13 percent of respondents, Obama alone is blamed most, better than the 18 percent who just blame Republicans but worse than the 7 percent who blame the Democratic lawmakers alone. And while Congress suffers the most in the public’s eye, with 51 percent taking a less favorable view of Capitol Hill in the wake of the failure, Obama’s standing drops for 35 percent of those polled.

While Obama can run from this unpopular Congress, he cannot hide from voters when it comes to the country’s debt crisis. A full 87 percent of the poll respondents said they were very or fairly concerned about the super committee’s failure. If there is anything to console him in this poll, it might be that Americans still think he has the best chances of solving the debt crisis when compared to his possible Republican contenders in 2012.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Americans blame all sides for debt committee failure: poll
Americans blamed the failure of Washington’s debt “super committee” on Republican and Democratic lawmakers and President Barack Obama, although more than a third said it lowered their opinion of the president, according to Reuters/Ipsos poll results on Tuesday.
Eighteen percent blamed Republican lawmakers most for the committee’s failure to reach agreement on a plan to reduce the U.S. budget deficit and 13 percent blamed Obama most.

For more of this story by Patricia Zengerle, read here.

Obama urges Congress to save payroll tax cut
President Obama challenged Congress to vote next week to preserve an expiring payroll tax cut, a day after lawmakers failed to agree on a way to control the ballooning federal deficit. Obama shifted into campaign mode after members of the “super committee” admitted they were unable to bridge a deep ideological divide on taxes and spending. “In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we are going to give them another chance,” Obama said.

For more of this story by Alister Bull, read here.

Super committee had glimpse of elusive compromise
It didn’t seem like mission impossible just two weeks ago. Inside a private room on the first floor of the Senate, seven members of Washington’s debt “super committee,” munching beef jerky and talking taxes, thought for the first time a deal might be at hand. Nine days after that Nov. 7 meeting, it was all but over. Accusations of media leaks and bad faith had led to a fatal breakdown of trust among committee members fundamentally divided over the ideology of taxation and spending.

For more of this insight story by Richard Cowan, Thomas Ferraro, Tim Reid and Donna Smith, read here.

For a factbox on winners and losers in the debt talks, click here.

Republicans to meet in foreign policy debate
The Republican presidential hopefuls meet for their second foreign policy debate in 10 days, with Newt Gingrich looking to extend a campaign surge that has propelled him to a lead over Mitt Romney in the polls. The debate will shine a spotlight on Republican differences over Iran, Pakistan, the use of waterboarding, and foreign aid in a race that so far has focused largely on economic issues and featured few policy clashes among the top contenders. The 8 p.m. debate at Washington’s DAR Constitution Hall airs live on CNN.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

From elsewhere…

Mitt Romney’s thrill of victory at the Olympics
By the late 1990s, Mitt Romney had succeeded in business, failed in politics, and reached a crossroads. The path he took was to the Olympics. In 1999, three years before the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Salt Lake City games were mired in a bribery scandal and facing a $400 million budget shortfall. Then Mitt took over. When five gargantuan Olympic rings lit up the mountains around Salt Lake in 2002, they burned away the last hint of scandal, healed a nation recovering from the September 11 terrorist attacks, and made Romney into a household name. But Romney also displayed sharp, even ruthless, political instincts as he worked to salvage the Games.

For more of this story, read here.

For more stories from our Washington correspondents visit www.reuters.com and stay informed.

Mary Milliken
Washington Bureau Chief


Photo Credits: REUTERS/Mike Theiler (Obama; Air Force One); REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Sen. John Kerry at window); REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (Sen. Rob Portman with reporters)


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How sad that the biggest area of common ground between right and left in the country right now is mutual disgust with congress. http://purpleground.com/2011/11/22/whats -the-opposite-of-super/

Posted by PurpleGround | Report as abusive

For 24 months, the dems controlled all 3 ( House – Senate and the oval office ). In that 24 months, the dems added $4.5 trillion to the debt almost and increased unfunded liabilities to over $60 trillion. Obama had already formed a bi-partisan committee headed up by Simpson & Bowles. They gave their report to Obama and he ignored it. Then he called for a joint leaders of congress ( again majority controlled dems )who’s GOP members in attendance formulated their opinions and again Obama ignored it. Now some 12 months later, we look back at $800 billion Bamacare, $800 billion stimulus called “shovel ready”, another $450 billion called the “stimulus jobs act” which now the dems won’t support in the senate.

And the GOP by Rueters polling that the GOP members on the “super committee” are equally to blame?

Posted by Gungy | Report as abusive

Let’s put the “For 24 months, the Dems controlled all 3 branches of government” talking point into a little historical context, shall we?

In 2001 the CBO showed the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.

From 2001 to 2009, with support from congressional Republicans, George Bush ran enormous deficits, adding nearly $5 trillion to the debt.

In 2002 Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.” Congressional Republicans agreed, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.

In 2009 Barack Obama inherited $1.3 trillion deficit from George Bush; Republicans immediately moved to condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

In 2009 (the beginning of this 24 month “monopoly over government” the right likes to talk about) Congressional Democrats unveiled several domestic policy initiatives, including health care reform, cap and trade, and the DREAM Act all of which would lower the deficit. The GOP opposed ALL of them, while continuing to push for deficit reduction.

In September of 2010, Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrank by $122 billion. Republicans again condemned Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.

In October of 2010, S&P endorsed the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.

In November 2010, Republicans won a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility. The first thing they did was demand extension of Bush tax cuts, relying entirely on deficit financing. And the GOP continued to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.

In March 2011, Congressional Republicans declared their intention to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history — until a massive debt-reduction plan was approved.

By August 2011, S&P downgraded U.S. debt, citing the Republicans’ refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoiced and blamed Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.

So now it’s the end of 2011, and the Supercomittee is deadlocked – over what? Democrats called for a balanced plan that required shared sacrifice, and Republicans refused. GOP members freely admit that they weren’t prepared to compromise on tax revenue — indeed, their “offers” demanded that Dems accept more tax cuts, making the debt problem worse, on purpose — dooming the entire process.

Opinion polling on the outcome shows a slightly higher percent blaming Republicans for the failure to reach a compromise. I’m surprised it was even close.

Posted by GetpIaning | Report as abusive