Was the super committee doomed from the start?

Steve Chiotakis Nov 21, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Well the fact that nothing has come out of the budget talks with only a few days left before that deadline isn’t surprising to Fortune magazine’s Allan Sloan.

Sloan: They were never going to work together to find budget cuts, and the reason is, there turns out to be no downside from not finding them. At least not any real downsides.

Chiotakis: Not really downsides. So no ramifications at all?

Sloan: Well in theory, in I think 2013, the government is supposed to reduce automatically defense spending by about 10 percent if nothing happens. And something is supposed to happen to social programs, but it’s a long time between now and 2013, and you know perfectly well nothing will happen.

Chiotakis: Don’t these people, Allan, want to cut the budget and do something to secure the nation’s — I don’t know, the credit rating that could be jeopardy, or whatever? Just the nation’s credit in general for future generations?

Sloan: I assume that they want to do it, but they want to do it their way. And the Republicans have never seen any interest in government revenues that they like, and the Democrats are more compromising, but in the end, are not going to sit there and cut the living stuff out of programs that they like. It’s just not going to happen.

Chiotakis: So you’re saying the super committee was doomed from the very beginning?

Sloan: All right, I am proud to say that in August, I wrote a rant that Fortune called “American Idiots,” and I called this plan “a deficit-trimming deal so absurb you have to laugh when you think hard about it.” So I never thought hard about it, and now I’m laughing.

Chiotakis: Does this mean, Allan, that we’ll never have nice things because the Congress — and dare I say the nation? — is polarized that no one’s ever just going to budge, not even to advance the greater good?

Sloan: Sooner or later, something is going to happen, if there’s a crisis. And I hear, there’s a rumor, there’s some election in 2012 — have you heard about this?

Chiotakis: I think I have.

Sloan: And I think after that, things will resolve one way or the other. You and I may not like it, but at least it will give us something to talk about on the radio.

Chiotakis: Fortune magazine’s Allan Sloan. Allan, thanks.

Sloan: You’re welcome, Steve.

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