Super-committee failure triggers blame game

 
US President Barack Obama speaks to the media (21 Nov 2011) President Barack Obama has said there will be "no easy off ramps"

Related Stories

The super-committee's failure to reach agreement on reducing the US deficit means we are now deep into the blame game, positioning for next year's presidential election.

President Barack Obama blames Republicans, hell-bent on protecting the richest American's at all costs.

Republicans blame him for a lack of leadership and the Democrats for an addiction to tax rises which will kill jobs.

Failure to agree will trigger savage cuts, in particular to the defence budget. That was the whole idea - that the alternative would be so bad they would have to reach agreement.

The White House intends to keep the pressure on Republicans, giving them the choice of - in many cases - breaking their promise to never put up taxes, or putting their country at risk.

The statement from Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, issued directly after the committee announced defeat, is meant to chill your blood and send shivers down your spine.

He warns the automatic cuts to his budget would "tear a seam in the nation's defense" and "lead to a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned".

Given this dire warning you might think he would be backing Republican congressman Buck McKenon, who says he will bring forward a bill to stop the automatic trigger and so prevent the "crippling" of America's military.

Start Quote

The White House may not have wanted failure, but it is well within their game plan”

End Quote

But no. President Obama has warned he will veto any such attempt.

"There will be no easy off-ramps on this one," he said.

"We need to keep the pressure up to compromise - not turn off the pressure.

"The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2tr."

Mr Panetta, of course, backs his president.

"I join the president in his call for Congress to avoid an easy way out of this crisis," he said.

"Congress cannot simply turn off the sequester mechanism, but instead must pass deficit reduction at least equal to the $1.2 trillion it was charged to pass under the Budget Control Act."

The White House may not have wanted failure, but it is well within their game plan.

At the moment they are quite happy that the political contest is Obama v Congress, not an actual Republican candidate.

All next year they will allow the idea to hang in the air, that Republicans would rather guard the rich against the disappearance of Bush-era tax breaks, than guard their country against attack.

The Republican nominee will be put on the spot about which he or she would prefer.

The president's ratings are not great. But the last survey suggested only 9% of Americans respected Congress.

President Obama will not be too unhappy if that is driven even lower, and a Republican candidate is tied to the decisions of his or her party in the House and Senate.

 
Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

More on This Story

Related Stories

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
 

Comments 5 of 471

 

This entry is now closed for comments

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.