Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Blame to go around

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.

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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.

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.”