The Super Committee’s rapidly-approaching failure to reach a deal and clueless Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s testimony on the Hill might be regarded as bookends: one shows how the government spends our money, while the other shows how ravenous it is for more money to waste.
Secretary Chu, as you should recall on April 15, poured more than half billion dollars into a pet green project. Word is that Chu has not been offered a job at Charles Schwab. Michael Goodwin captures the unapologetic nature of Chu’s response to his failure:
Energy Secretary Steven Chu has outdone the doctor who declares the operation a success although the patient died. Chu won’t even say he’s sorry for the loss.
The corpse here is the $535 million loan given to Solyndra, the solar company whose business model relied on massive infusions of cash from the White House. The firm is defunct, the cash is gone to money heaven, and Chu can only say it’s “unfortunate.”
In five hours of congressional testimony, he refused to apologize for wasting so much taxpayer dough.
Then again, by his reckoning, he did nothing wrong. He effectively described himself as a hands-off manager of a vast portfolio of government investments. Losers are to be expected, he said, a sly co-opting of market lingo, with the important caveat that his losers are funded with public money.
Chu’s claim to fame is that he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. He should stick to physics and leave finance to experts. Or spend his own money the next time he wants to invest.
And you’re telling me that the super committee couldn’t find enough cuts to make to trim $1.2 trillion from the budget without raising taxes?
Robert Samuelson points out that "contrary to much press coverage" Senator Pat Toomey and Rep. Jeb Hensarling put forward a plan to raise more revenue that would lower tax rates but also close several deductions. Samuelson thinks this was the right thing to do. It wasn’t enough for the Democrats, who see higher taxes as their Holy Grail. Some liberal pundit said on TV yesterday that taxes must be raised even though "nobody wants to raise taxes." Wanna bet?
Commentary’s Alana Goodman reports, however that “the Super Committee is hard at work:
Nope, not at putting the finishing touches on an agreement. Instead, the members are reportedly trying to figure out how to gently break the news to the public that they will not reach a deal by this week’s deadline….
This is an embarrassment. But as the clock ticked down, even the most optimistic among us had to concede this was a task doomed from the beginning. Pretty much the only way to get to a deal would be if a Democrat or Republican jumped ship to the other team – and based on the ideology of the members appointed, and the fact that they were under close supervision by party leaders, this simply wasn’t going to happen.
One person does appear to be AWOL: our globe-trotting president. Former senator Judd Gregg addresses this interesting absence in a piece headlined “Where in the World Is President Obama?”
The president was in Hawaii while the supercommittee hit stall speed. What is new about this? Very little.
Throughout his term, President Obama has avoided leading on the issue of fiscal responsibility. He walked away from his own commission, the one led by former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, when he found its report filled with inconvenient choices.
Now in a week when leadership is needed to push this critical committee to do something big and bring the nation’s fiscal house back into order, the president once again disappears. It causes one to wonder, why?
The general consensus is that neither he nor the people around him feel there is a great upside to doing something that involves making so many difficult decisions to straighten out our nation’s fiscal future.
Samuelson also criticizes the president for his "noncommittal gibberish" when asked to speak about the fiscal future of the nation he leads.
I’ve been saying for days that the across the board cuts triggered by a failure to reach a deal might be the best possible outcome. The only worry is how this will affect the stock market (yes, some of us care more about success for Wall Street than for Occupy Wall Street).
But when the Democrats come out to give their inevitable blame-others press conference and say we need to raise taxes, remember Secretary Chu.