In supercommittee, Dems moved right and Republicans moved righter

By:  Ezra Klein

The supercommittee's failure was finalized yesterday, and so today is the day we figure out who to blame. President Obama was clear in his remarks last night: The gridlock was the Republicans' fault. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of the supercommittee, is clear in the Wall Street Journal this morning: the Democrats deserve the blame. My colleague Michael Gerson, meanwhile, says it was Obama. 

If by "at fault" we mean "unwilling to compromise," we can do better than listen to the self-serving remarks of the players. We can look hard at the movement in the actual plans. Before the supercommittee, there were the Obama-Boehner negotiations. And we have a pretty good idea of the plan that almost -- but didn't quite -- clear those discussions. We also have the deals on the plans that were offered in the supercommittee. And if you look at the numbers, it's pretty easy to see which party moved further towards a compromise.

Hint: It's the one that named Sen. Max Baucus as one of its six key negotiators.

The final Boehner plan envisioned tax reform that would generate $800 billion in new revenues and bring the top rate down to 35 percent. In the supercommittee, the highest Republicans ever got on taxes was the Toomey plan's $300 billion, with envisioned a top rate of 28 percent. So on taxes, it's fairly clear: The supercommittee Republicans were far to the right of Boehner.

On the Democratic side, Obama eventually insisted on somewhere near $1.2 trillion in tax reform or, if the revenues were to move lower, on much less in entitlement cuts. In the supercommittee, the Democrats offered a plan (pdf) with less than a trillion dollars in tax reform -- and more entitlement reforms than Obama was willing to agree to.

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