Super-committee quits

There was a flurry of last-minute talks this afternoon, but in the end, there was simply no way for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the super-committee — to reach an agreement.

While the panel members effectively gave up a while ago, this afternoon, they made it official. This was a joint statement released by the committee’s co-chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.

“Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant differences, we end this process united in our belief that the nation’s fiscal crisis must be addressed and that we cannot leave it for the next generation to solve. We remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.

“We are deeply disappointed that we have been unable to come to a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement, but as we approach the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to express our appreciation to every member of this committee, each of whom came into the process committed to achieving a solution that has eluded many groups before us. Most importantly, we want to thank the American people for sharing thoughts and ideas and for providing support and good will as we worked to accomplish this difficult task.

“We would also like to thank our committee staff, in particular Staff Director Mark Prater and Deputy Staff Director Sarah Kuehl, as well as each committee member’s staff for the tremendous work they contributed to this effort. We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Douglas Elmendorf and Mr. Thomas Barthold and their teams at the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, respectively, for the technical support they provided to the committee and its members.”

While this formal end will likely lead to yet another round of finger pointing, we already know why the committee failed: Democrats called for a balanced plan that required shared sacrifice, and Republicans refused. That’s not an opinion; that’s what happened. GOP members freely admit that they weren’t prepared to compromise on tax revenue — indeed, their offers demanded that Dems accept more tax cuts, necessarily making the debt problem worse, on purpose — dooming the entire process.

And so attention now turns to the “triggers” — get to know the word “sequestration” — and the Republican efforts to kill their own spending-cut proposal.