Should the Occupy Movement Get Credit for the "Super-Committee's" Failure?
It's rare that I disagree with Dean Baker, but I don't believe that the Occupy Movement deserves much credit for derailing the "super-committee."
OWS and the response it has drawn from around the country has hugely altered the political debate. It has put inequality and the incredible upward redistribution of income over the last three decades at the center of the national debate. In this context, it became impossible for Congress to back a package that had cuts to social security and Medicare at its center, while actually lowering taxes for the richest 1%, as the Republican members of the supercommittee were demanding.
As a result, he says that "much of the credit" for the committee's failure to strike a deal "goes to the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement."
I couldn't agree more that OWS has had a profound impact on the national discourse -- in fact I wrote about what I called the Occupy Movement's "stunning victory" in shifting the mainstream ecenomic discussion just last month.
The problem with crediting the movement is that the 'Gang of Twelve's' failure to strike a deal was always a foregone conclusion.
In early August, fully a month before the Occupy Wall Street movement got off the ground, I wrote that the entire process was "nothing more than a piece of kabuki theater."
The “super congress” that emerged from the [debt ceiling] deal offered a way to kick what had been an unbridgeable divide down the road a ways, but it doesn't alter the contours of the debate. While some Republicans have indicated that they might support closing a few loopholes to raise revenues, the party as a whole remains committed to their no-tax pledge. Democrats – especially House Democrats – have repeated that we need a “balanced” approach to cutting debt like a mantra. They've signaled they would be willing to accept some cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but not cuts sufficiently deep to entice enough GOP support for a package with new revenues.
Political scientist Seth Maskett analyzed the voting records of the Gang of 12 and concluded that it represents a “a pretty good balance between the parties,” featuring “roughly equal proportions of extremists and moderates” that “should agree on approximately nothing.” The most likely scenario is that this group won't come up with a deal that gets the seven votes needed to send it to the full Congress for a vote. If they do, it will by necessity be at least a somewhat “balanced” approach, and the GOP, terrified of its Tea Party base, has made it clear that such a deal is a non-starter – it'd be DOA on the Hill.
The “leverage” that's supposed to move these legislators closer together is one of those Beltway fantasies that bears no resemblance to any objective reality. Conservatives have little incentive to deal, in part because Democrats have already negotiated away substantial cuts in military spending in the “trigger.”
When I wrote that, I wasn't at all worried that I'd end up with egg on my face.