The Super Committee: How Not to Cut a Deal

The committee's failure was enough to make Clarence Page pine for a time when politicians knew how to cut a deal, he writes in his Chicago Tribune column.

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Capitol Hill (Thinkstock)

In his Chicago Tribune column, Clarence Page reflects on the congressional super committee's failure to reach a deal, saying that members should have borrowed a page from old-school politicians who used to strike deals in smoke-filled rooms. While they can do without the smoke, today's leaders could definitely learn something about the art of the deal.

The difference is that the old elitists knew how to cut a deal. In the smoke-free rooms of today's politically polarized Washington, the art of compromise seems for now to be all but lost.

The supercommittee was created to break a deadlock between Democrats and Republicans over raising the national debt ceiling, a matter that used to be pretty routine. But today's divided Congress agreed to raise the debt ceiling only after referring the larger deficit problem and its thorny tax issues to a new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, popularly known as the supercommittee.

The 12-member supercommittee, evenly divided between the parties and two houses of Congress, apparently received its catchy nickname from lawmakers who wanted to make it sound like something more than an excuse to avoid making tough decisions.

In short, it was doomed from the start. It was long on partisans and lacking independent deal-makers.

Read Clarence Page's complete column at the Chicago Tribune.

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