D.C. adopts California's meat-cleaver approach to budgeting
So the "stupor committee" failed. Surprise.
Democrats wouldn't budge on cuts to social programs without tax hikes. Republicans wouldn't budge on raising taxes. Voila: A no-budge(t) collapse.
Where have we seen this before?
Oh, right: California's Legislature.
The "super committee" was supposed to make the hard choices that Congress couldn't. The nation's future was at risk, our political leaders warned. This time it's serious. We can't kick this can down the road any more.
Oh yes we can. Heck, we've been kicking this can down the road in California for years.
Remember all the brinkmanship during Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration? How many times did we hear that we had to get our fiscal house in order? How many times did someone say "it's now or never"?
But it wasn't. And it isn't.
California did what Washington is about to do: Take the meat-cleaver approach.
Our state budget calls for automatic cuts if revenues don't come in at a certain level. And guess what? Revenues aren't keeping up.
So the cuts are coming -– but only to stuff we don't need, like schools. That allows the politicians to point fingers -– while the arms and legs of our kids' futures are being lopped off.
It works so well, Washington has basically agreed to do the same thing: The super committee couldn't come up with a plan, so automatic spending cuts will kick in.
But wait, there's more: Things are so messed up that, because the committee failed, the average American may see a tax increase of nearly $1,000 in January. Oh, and unemployment benefits for about 2 million people may run out. (Not to worry, though: The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are safe!)
Good plan. Thanks, Congress -– now that's leadership.
Still, there's one bit of good news for California. At least we won't be the butt of all those jokes about how screwed up our state has become.
Because now the whole country will be as screwed up as we are.
Photo: Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) is co-chair of the congressional "super committee." Credit: Win McNamee / Getty Images