Super Committee Chairs Prepare To Announce Failure

November 20, 2011 4:48 p.m.

Capitol Hill sources say that barring a highly unexpected, last minute development, Super Committee co-chairs Jeb Hensarling and Patty Murray will issue a statement on Monday acknowledging the panel’s failure.

The development comes one day before the panel’s drop dead date to submit a plan, and three days before the debt limit law requires them to report legislation to the full Congress. Failure will lock into place deep, across the board cuts to defense and security programs, a two percent cut to Medicare providers, and cuts to other domestic programs. Those spending reductions will kick in on January 1, 2013, unless Congress acts to change the law, or passes more targeted budget cuts and thus agrees to eliminate the automatic penalty.

Those cuts, along with the looming expiration of the Bush tax cuts, promise to be major flashpoints for the 2012 campaign, and lock in a tough legislative food fight over cutting spending and raising taxes.Late Saturday, aides told me the committee’s private discussions had turned toward how to publicly acknowledge they were unable to come to an agreement.

“Conversations are still happening, but its mostly about how to put this thing to bed,” said one Democratic source.

Staffers continue to claim a dim, shrinking hope that Republicans and Democrats can agree to at least a trivial package of cuts. But that’s unlikely unless Republicans are willing to agree to raise taxes on wealthy Americans — which so far they’ve been wholly unwilling to do.

Late last week Republicans proposed a fallback plan of about $600 billion, almost entirely from spending cuts, higher user fees, and sales of federal property. Democrats publicly mocked the plan. But privately, Democratic sources say even a fallback plan would need to be comprised of measures split between those that Democrats prefer and those that Republicans want so neither side cedes leverage in future budget negotiations.

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