There were plenty of losers in the collapse of the congressional "super committee," which announced Monday that it had failed to leverage its special budgetary powers into a bipartisan deficit-reduction deal. But not everybody is mourning "this sad moment in American democracy," says Michael Scherer at TIME. Here, six people who may be quietly cheering the super committee's demise:
1. Grover Norquist
A deal was always unlikely without tax increases. So the super committee's failure is a boon for the Americans for Tax Reform chief, because it "proves his power to hold GOP politicians to his anti-tax pledge is as potent as ever," says Jay Newton-Small at TIME. The political press was full of stories about Grover's waning influence, but Republicans' fears of "crossing Norquist was one of the biggest contributing factors to the committee's failure." Now, under the automatic trigger that goes into effect because no deal was reached, all the deficit-reducing comes from spending cuts, not taxes.
2. Newt Gingrich
The new frontrunner in several Republican presidential polls said from the beginning that the super committee was "a truly dumb idea," and now he gets to say, "Told you so." The panel's failure is "good for America," Gingrich said Monday, because Congress was trying to break out of our gridlock-fueled fiscal "mess by being, in my judgment, even dumber — that is creating a committee of 12 picked by the political leadership to magically get in a room to come up with something that 535 couldn't solve." Without elaborating, Gingrich added, "It's a major reason I am running for president."
3. Mitt Romney
The slow-and-steady GOP presidential frontrunner used the debt committee's collapse to slam President Obama for his "inexcusable" absence during the negotiations. "I would have anticipated that the president of the United States would have spent every day and many nights working with members of the super committee trying to find a way to bridge the gap," Romney said. You can bet Romney was hoping for failure, says Marc Ambinder at National Journal. If Republicans had agreed to raise taxes, Romney would have had to "run against his own party," or risk diluting the his anti-tax message.
4. President Obama
All in all, "the failure of the super committee ain't so bad for the president," says David Corn at Mother Jones. Obama gets to blame Republicans for stubbornly failing to agree to politically popular revenue increases. And by threatening to veto any GOP end-run around the triggered cuts, Obama gets to be "Washington's fiscal enforcer." The president was wise to stay "about as far away as he could get from the super committee train wreck," agrees TIME's Newton-Small. After getting too involved over the summer, he "learned his lesson and let Congress embarrass itself," making his 2012 blame-Congress campaign all that much easier.
5. Mitch McConnell and 6. Nancy Pelosi
The super committee's embarrassing failure is just the latest show of gridlock in Congress, which is already polling in the single digits. That's bad for (almost) all incumbents, but especially for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), says Jonathan Allen at Politico. That means Senate Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can "capitalize on the failures of the folks in charge" as they try to take the majority in their respective chambers. Also helping those efforts: McConnell doesn't have to defend tax increases, and Pelosi avoided big cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How I lost all my money
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Ismail Kadare's 6 favorite books
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- Capitalism isn't a cure-all for Cuba
- How to develop a photographic memory in 4 easy steps
Subscribe to the Week