Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Turkey talks

The good news? Thanksgiving will not be interrupted by eleventh-hour negotiations by the “super committee” to strike a deal to cut the burgeoning deficit. After months of work, the 11 men and one woman called it quits today. Their statement said “it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement.” No mention of the word on everyone’s tongues: failure.

Even in the early days of the super committee, we are learning, hope was in short supply. At one of the early breakfast meetings, members kept saying how hard it would be to reach agreement. South Carolina’s  Democratic Representative James Clyburn said to his fellow panel members: “Do you want to know what’s hard? Desegregating South Carolina in the 1950s. I met my wife in jail.”

Right now, it’s hard to believe this Congress “can build on this committee’s work,” as the committee co-chairs said hopefully in their statement. There seems to be little faith left on the Hill. Just look at the harsh words from Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who said the panel’s failure “represents yet another regrettable milestone in Congress’s steady march toward abject ineffectiveness.”

As our grade school grammar teachers would remind us, turkeys are done and people are finished. And the super committee? Done. Over. History.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

US deficit panel fails to reach deal
U.S. lawmakers abandoned their high-profile effort to rein in the country’s ballooning debt in a sign that Washington likely will not be able to resolve a dispute over taxes and spending until 2013. Republican and Democratic members of a 12-member congressional “super committee” said they were unable to resolve their significant differences as they ran up against a deadline to deliver a plan that would cut U.S. deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

Obama doesn’t drive, but he feels your pain at the pump

President Barack Obama says he sympathizes with the frustration over high gas prices — even though it’s been a while since he’s had to fill a tank.

“I’ll admit to you, it’s been a while since I … filled up at the pump,” Obama joked during a townhall-style event. “Secret Service doesn’t let me get out, and they don’t let me drive anymore.” USA

The event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale was part of Obama’s ongoing effort to sell the deficit-reduction plan he introduced last week and gear up for a 2012 re-election campaign.

Washington Extra – Cattle prod

.dowAs market maven Mohamed El-Erian told us today “The medium term has a way of creeping up on you.” That’s why everyone needs a cattle prod from time to time and today it was Washington’s turn to get a goading.

It came in the form of Standard & Poor’s decision to slap a negative outlook on America’s top-notch credit rating because of Washington’s plodding pace on deficit reduction. The White House and Congress need to get in gear and start making meaningful plans to cut the deficit or else be responsible for a dreaded downgrade in debt. The chances? One-in-three over two years.

S&P took most everyone by surprise, although the White House knew on Friday. In three days, it prepared the defenses: 1) S&P is making a “political judgment”; 2) “we shouldn’t overreact”; 3) actually we are closer than you think in agreeing with Republicans about the way forward.

Bipartisanship: can words be put into action in election year?

The president wants it. The public wants it.

But when it comes to bipartisanship, words are easier than action — especially in an election year. OBAMA/

President Barack Obama, who met with congressional leaders from both parties on Tuesday, called for bipartisan solutions to some of  the weighty issues of the day: job creation and deficit reduction.

“As I said in my State of the Union, part of what we’d like to see is the ability of Congress to move forward in a more bipartisan fashion on some of the key challenges that the country is facing right now,” Obama said before the meeting.