The U.S. deficit super committee is a bipartisan group. Some might think that means the 12 lawmakers assigned should be able to reach an agreeable, compromised solution for a $1.2 trillion federal budget reduction by deadline middle of next week.
But this is Washington, the home of American politics 21st century style, when and where reason doesn't often rule.
Partisan groups can't seem to agree on much in Washington these days. Simply recall the debt talks months ago, when the U.S. got a debt downgrade from Standard & Poor's after Republican Tea Party members couldn't agree with Republican leadership to get a satisfactory result. Trying to get Democrats and Republicans to make a deal over money is even harder than that.
So the drama continues, with a deadline looming for the super committee, charged with picking up the pieces where the debt ceiling talks left off before. Should the bipartisan super committee, comprised of six Democrats and six Republicans, fail to deliver plans for a $1.2 trillion federal budget reduction by next week, an automatic sequester will be triggered, making cuts in that amount to defense and social welfare programs beginning in 2013.
Some economists are warning that failure to reach a plan by the super committee could cause another credit rating downgrade for the U.S., similar to the S&P downgrade that sent shock and uninspired awe rippling through global financial markets. Reasonably, one might expect the super committee to reach agreement on a plan, considering that the amount of money they are dealing with -- $1.5 trillion -- is small in the big scheme of things. Consider only that $1.5 trillion is just 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product estimated for 2013.
But this is Washington politics today, not yesterday, when back-office deals could more easily be brokered. Time is running out for the super committee, and the progress doesn't look good.The committee is supposed to submit a proposal by Monday to give the Congressional Budget Office time to look over the plan.
That's only two days away, but don't hold your breath.
Late this week various reports suggested that talks have been so dicey they've been close to totally collapsing. Such reports caused President Barack Obama to chastise the group of super committee lawmakers on Sunday, telling them to bite the bullet and make a deal.
Easier said than done, however. Obama isn't exactly E.F. Hutton these days. He's talking, but not many seem to be listening.
There are some serious hurdles, said U.S. Senator John Kerry, D-Mass., after a bipartisan super committee meeting Thursday night.
The biggest hurdle may be that America's political system doesn't seem to work as well as it once did -- and that's saying something. Deals are no longer brokered by opposing sides. Deals are butchered, pushing the American people to the brink with one senseless, endless threat after another.
The super committee and other political leaders in Washington know that America faces dire consequences, including another possible credit downgrade, if a deal can't be reached. Yet with only days to go, that very thing looms as a very big possibility.