Super Committee's Potential for Success in Question


Democrats say as the super committee will engage Washington in months of debate that will show voters a clear distinction between the values of both political parties: Cutting entitlements like Medicare and Social Security versus raising taxes on multimillionaires and closing egregious tax loopholes.

"Democrats want to ensure that the Joint Committee on Deficits is also a joint committee on jobs," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the United Steelworkers Conference in Las Vegas Monday. "We must take the discussions of how to reduce the deficit to the higher ground of America's greatness and its values. We must meet the aspirations of the American people for success and keep America number one. All our conversations about reducing the deficit must focus on how to grow an American prosperity enjoyed by all Americans."

One thing that is evident is that one of President Obama's top goals heading into the next election is to win back Democratic control of the House of Representatives. At a town hall meeting Monday night in Iowa, the president did not hide his irritation over the divided Congress and took dead aim at Tea Party-supported conservatives in the House.

"The problem is, is that we've got the kind of partisan brinksmanship that is willing to put party ahead of country, that's more interested in seeing their political opponents lose than seeing the country win," the president told the crowd in Decorah, Iowa. "I'm pretty frustrated about that."

After last November's landslide election, this Congress is perhaps the most polarized in more than a decade, with most of the moderate Blue Dog Democrats wiped out in the Tea Party's tsunami. Those moderates were not replaced by centrist conservatives, but rather by hard-line lawmakers that Democrats call "extreme," "fringe" and, by some accounts, "terrorists."

In the House, Republicans must guard their 48-seat majority, 240-192. That number could change a little as there are currently three vacant seats due to resignations in the lower body.

Beyond winning back the House majority, President Obama has another formidable challenge on his hands in keeping Democratic control of the Senate.

In order to hold the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his colleagues enjoy a 53-47 seat advantage over Republicans, Democrats have the tall task of defending 22 incumbent seats, while the GOP has just 11 seats to protect.

Those electoral dynamics, coupled with customary procrastination of the legislative branch, make the super committee's work even more daunting as lawmakers will undoubtedly resist upsetting their respective political bases heading into a pivotal presidential election cycle.

Only time will tell how the deficit debate ultimately plays out and whether lawmakers can put aside their political differences for the sake of the country.

Lawmakers heard another warning of the consequence of inaction -- despite the assurance of triggers. Although Fitch Ratings affirmed the country's AAA rating (unlike the recent S&P downgrade), the agency cranked up the pressure on the 12-member committee Tuesday, warning that if the lawmakers are unable to come together to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit the nation's credit rating "would likely result in negative rating action."

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