Overheard on CNN.com: Super committee 'fail' angers readers
The bipartisan congressional debt committee failed to negotiate $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction measures.
November 21st, 2011
08:13 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Super committee 'fail' angers readers

Editor's note: Readers have a lot to say about stories, and we're listening. Overheard on CNN.com is a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"Congress has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in Washington this Christmas season.This isn't for any religious reason; they simply have not been able to find Three Wise Men in the nation's capital. The search for a virgin continues. There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable."

The failure is now official: The congressional "super committee" has been unable to reach a deficit reduction agreement, and Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other. Many people have opined that this outcome was hardly a surprise given the divisions in government. Outrage and frustration in all directions is practically seeping from the comments section on related stories.

'Super committee' fails to reach agreement

Commenters' discussions were revealing of the frustration among many people who said politicians are placing their own interests over those of the nation. Take this exchange for example:

juneday: "Let history note that this is the day that Congress fiddled while our economy burned. While our young men and women lay their lives on the line every day for this country, it appears that there is not one member of congress who is willing to lay their political life on the line, to reach a compromise."

gbologn: "The most galling thing to me is that our government is doing it right in front of our eyes and there is not a damn thing we can do about it. The solution is simple: remove money from politics. It sounds too good to be true, but if there is no money to be made behind every legislative vote/decision..."

Some blamed one side and some blamed the other. In addition, many placed a healthy portion of the responsibility on the populace, like commenter PDXSerric for example:

"News flash: it was the failure of congress which led to the creation of this so-called 'super committee' in the first place. Their failure, in turn, is due to the fact that more and more American votes are more enthralled with the reality-television worthy drama of fringe politics than actually demanding both sides leave their extremist views and come towards the center for genuine leadership. They thrive on votes, people. It's no different than American Idol. They will do whatever they think their audience wants in order to garner your vote. The one thing they seem incapable of doing, however, is their jobs. This isn't a Democratic OR Republican issue. It is an issue of fringe extremism being allowed to tear our country apart. As an aside, however, I noticed that while 'entitlements' were on the chopping block (social security insurance that people worked for and PAID INTO for decades), congressional taxpayer-funded healthcare (even if they've been impeached, their healthcare continues for life), vacation, unlimited sick days, an enviable pension ... none of those entitlements were on the block. Funny how they always want to cut from someone else's pockets yet protect their own with their lives."

There were a lot of other comments that echoed that sentiment:

desertrat218: "Our government mirrors the people of our country, partisan politics are destroying the very fabric of our society. We have both sides blaming the other and neither side willing to actually negotiate a deal."

Interfriend: "Very true. Our politicians were elected to their office by American voters. We can therefore blame no one but ourselves. Americans are easy prey to misinformation and true lies, even in this age of internet."

lar7true suggested that perhaps both sides are right, arguing that spending less and bringing in more revenue should be done together:

"Gotta feel sorry for the naive people commenting here who don't understand 4th grade math, and therefore have an inability to comprehend that without massive cuts in BOTH military & social programs AND raising taxes for rich AND middle-income America, we default. Period. Game over. The super committee is merely reflecting the inability of both Democrats and Republicans here to face reality."

Many comments expressed anger against the Republicans and the Tea Party, whom many viewed as obstructive to negotiations.

Gwrtheyrn: "Another epic fail by the GOP who would rather see the nation go down in flames rather than negotiate a fair deal for all Americans."

ComSenseGuy: "Dear GOP: You are fired!"

guru0z: "Its good to know that the GOP would rather axe grandma's Medicare than remove the Bush tax cuts. That's what I call a real death panel."

We also heard from some who said they were conservatives who are frustrated, too. dawgs4ever also said a combination of spending cuts and increased taxes might be warranted:

"As a fiscal conservative who typically votes Republican, it's really disturbing that it sounds as if the Republicans on this committee won't consider any deal that involves raising taxes on those making over $1 million a year. I don't care if they're "job creators." Businesses are job creators. Most of the folks who make $1 million+ aren't job creators, they're just people that have lucrative jobs. We need to compromise here folks ... taxes need to go up AND spending needs go way down ... We need both to make this economy work. And this is coming from somebody who despises tax increases. (FWIW, taxes need to go up for everybody, not just those making the highest incomes)."

Piratejoe: "Tea Party guy here. Not too upset that we are going to have to cut Medicare/caid and the military as much as I love our military. $50 billion a year is not the end off the military. I realize it's not the end of the world on a $650 billion-a-year budget, and a small cut trim off Medi-whatever is not the end of the world either."

CNN Poll: Partisan divides explain super committee failure

Voters' strongly split views may be what is fueling Congress' struggles. According to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday, there's a partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans, with Republicans opposed to tax increases by a 59% to 39% margin and Democrats against spending cuts by a 57% to 42% margin. (See PDF of full results) Readers got into strong debates on this post as well.

v_mag suggested redistricting schemes might be to blame:

"There was an excellent segment on CNN about the role of gerrymandering in this problem with Congress. We can't get rid of this do-nothing Congress while the vast majority of districts have been carefully constructed to keep the incumbent in office. Voters in a Republican district are always going for the Republican, and the same for Democratic districts. The only way to change that is to have new challengers in the primaries, which the parties suppress. So, we wind up with incumbents firmly entrenched, Congress' approval ratings in single digits, gridlock in Washington, and disaster ahead. Revolution to follow."

Others were frustrated that nothing was being done. Like some other readers, Charlotte Shinn weighted her blame on Republicans:

"I live on Social Security only. Our super commitee makes way more than me. Perhaps they should forfeit pay for every day that they cannot get together, (Democrats, Republicans, Independents) with a solution. This is my life they are messing up. Perhaps the loss of pay would get them to think nonpartisan instead of the next election. In general, I think the Republicans try to down President Obama instead of thinking what is good for the country."

Commenter Dr. John said cuts should come before revenue:

"Giving them more revenue will just enable them to continue reckless spending in Washington. We must see cuts and greater efficiency before raising taxes. Reducing deductions and loopholes (especially for true millionaires and large corporations) will create more revenue as would creating more jobs. There needs to be cuts across the board, including military and foreign aid. If they want to increase taxes on people making a million plus, that is fine, but leave the upper middle class alone."

Analysis: Super committee reflects our own super failure

This story takes a look at the reasons why the super committee failed, as well as the political implications for both parties and President Obama down the line. Ultimately, it concludes, the public shares blame and both Democrats and Republicans have much to lose from the failure.

Some commenters disagreed with portions of the story and said voters shouldn't let their legislators off the hook, while others agreed:

almosttoast: Sorry, wrong. Americans elect people to make the tough decisions for them. Even when it means they’ll be voted out of office for doing it. When those elected people fail to make those decisions, they’re in the wrong, not the electorate.

FuriousInch: "The article is spot-on.  If someone says that they need to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, they won't get elected because people don't want to hear the truth.  If people try and cut the Department of Defense, same thing. Those are the things that need to be cut."

SupraPwn: "We know there are deep divisions that are preventing people from coming to an agreement. This is exactly why a super committee was created: to work around these divisions and create a solution. If everyone agreed then there wouldn't  be the need for a super committee."

Many took square aim at Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, who urged Republican committee members to sign a pledge that binds them to resist raising taxes.

BrianNM: The Democrats were willing to put up things like Medicare and Social Security on the table.  Republicans refuse to raise taxes and have signed a pledge.  How can there be compromise when one party is owned by Norquist?  There can't be.  We need to vote out anyone who signs a pledge to a man.  The only pledge should be to serve their constituents to the best of their ability

RustyAxe was among those feeling discomfort about partisan politics.

"You party liners make me sick.  Don't you get it?  We are in a one party system.  The Dems are every bit as bad as the GOP.  Until we quit supporting the status quo we are doomed."

This is a hot debate. What's your take? Join the conversation below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or, sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Congress • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. BethNW

    Entirely New Congress Wanted-
    Must care more about the country than keeping your well paid job with genereous perks.
    Must be willing to work with congress to solve the problems in the country. in a non partisan way,
    Must not traash those you disagree with.
    Prior Congressional experience a major disadvantage.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. anaeliss

    #70 Chuck is so right!

    November 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. GW

    The real problems are the back room deals, hidden accounting practices, misleading quotes, misinformation and the constant finger pointing from both parties. GOP won't raise taxes? Because Dems won't make real, actual cuts. Dems won't cut? Because GOP plays the slight of hand with tax increases. This has been decades in the making and it's now time to pay the piper. Problem is nobody wants to step up and make the hard decisions. Fire them all. They don't deserve to be in Congress.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Randy

    My wife and I are considered pretty well off, but we both work 50-60 hours a week, we pay close to 48% of our income in taxes and there are no fancy shelters or anything for us. No matter how much we pay in or give to charity we always pay more and then get hit with the AMT too. We both work for companies that give us little job security and continue to lay folks off and lean and threaten the few that remain to do the work of those they let go.

    I have heard that companies are sitting on record cash reserves, but are not hiring. We are truely living in an age of greed run rampant. I can't remember the last time I worked for a company that I felt cared about me or my family. The new global economy means that companies can shift labor to countries with lax labor laws and tax havens while still peddling their goods back to the US tarriff free. We need a more equitable global policy to police this trend that has only gotten worse over the past few decades.

    Americans in general just need to vote independant from this point forward to create a middle ground in Washington. I usually vote conservative, because I have not seen the will to stop spending and borrowing from Democrats, yet the Republicans in office do not want to increase capital gains taxes which accounts for most of the income of the Uber-Wealthy, they want to fight financial oversight and reform of Wall Street investment firms – the very same group that proved that the greedy have no social morals or conscience as they create obscene executive compensation plans after they rode our economy into the ground without thought of the long-term consequences... I also am also embarrassed as Republicans continue to push the fossil fuel agenda. It is appallingly short-sighted to refuse to back new alternate clean fuels.

    The US military hegemony to protect foreign oil reserves and project our military presence world-wide is another outdated concept. The budget office presses non-strategic miliatary buildup and military-buildup spending that dwarves that of nations who are not staring down the barrel of forced austerity measures to balance thier national budgets. We need a smarter military, a mobile military that can respond to threats. By now, most analyst should agree that policing and nation-building are not viable or economic uses for our military which could still serve as a deterent with it's quick-strike ability to thwart any threat, or retaliate against aggression.

    We have to spend less and bring in more taxes, compromises have to be made and I applaud President Obama's VETO stance for any ammendment that seeks to prevent the deep cuts to military and social programs next year. Those changes will hurt, but this congress needs to see that there are consequences to the endless posturing and game-playing that goes on in Washington.

    I was disheartened to that the balanced budget ammendment did not pass. I cannot agree with everything Obama has tried to do (I think he labors under the false idea that government programs can be efficient so we should create more of them. Having worked for the government I can tell you government agencies are inefficient and incredibly wasteful), but I can applaud the efforts he has made to reach compromise agreements; Overtures that have been rebuffed by a coven of childish Republican career politicians.

    Can we fire our elected members of congress, or lay them off without pay so they can actually feel what it is like to be just another tax payer endlessly waiting for some enlightened leadership from Washington.

    November 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nate


    November 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jay

    All to do with a vow the GOP made to a nut named Grover Norquist not to raise taxes on the rich.

    November 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |

    Norquist said on Meet the press, that the GOP will probably lose in next years election because of the pledge.

    November 29, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
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