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The Supercommittee’s Achievement

As usual, the conventional wisdom has it wrong. The supercommittee didn’t fail; it succeeded in what it was intended to do, which was provide cover for an increase in the debt ceiling through the end of Obama’s term. I explore this theme in today’s New York Post:

It was there just to get us to Thanksgiving. Thursday is Thanksgiving. The supercommittee’s work is done.

The lament that the supercommittee was unable to make a deal is ridiculous — because the supercommittee itself was the deal.

Going forward, the 12 members will find themselves under somewhat unpleasant assault for not having saved America from itself. At the same time, some of them will be showered with praise and increased campaign contributions for having refused to sell out their own camp’s principles.

The question now is who will benefit politically from the supercommittee’s success-that-looks-like-a-failure. The first poll on the matter, by Quinnipiac, says the public blames Republicans more than Democrats by a margin of 46-38, which isn’t that dramatic a spread. It appears the White House thinks it can make hay out of this, but that is a tricky proposition. President Obama may want to run against a do-nothing Congress the way Harry Truman did. But the more Obama concentrates his rhetorical attention on how the system is broken, the weaker he may come to seem to voters, who ordinarily don’t accept the contention of presidents that their power and authority are insufficient to get the job done.