Does the American political system even work anymore?

American_ClockVariations on that question kept coming up as Americans — at least those paying attention — absorbed the news that the Congressional committee charged with reducing the deficit had failed to even meet very often, let alone come up with a plan to get the country back in the black. From shoppers in Los Angeles to tourists in Atlanta to traders taking cigarette breaks outside the Chicago Board of Trade, the eye-rolling that often accompanies doings in Washington gave way to something bordering on dismay.

The failure of the committee — which had been dubbed, with typical inside-the-Beltway grandiosity, the “supercommittee” — led to predictable, if bitter, kryptonite jokes. But it also prompted wrenching questions about whether Congress can be trusted to do its job: the committee, after all, was supposed to do the hard work that lawmakers had put off in August when they eventually agreed to avert default by raising the nation’s debt limit, waiting so long to do so that Standard & Poor’s lowered the United States’s credit rating.

The idea of the committee was, in part, to save Congress from itself: let a dozen members forge a compromise to cut the deficit, and then put it to the whole Congress for an up-or-down vote. It was Congress lashing itself to the mast, like Odysseus, to resist the siren calls of lobbyists and special interest groups. But in the end, the ship went nowhere.

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Source: Michael Cooper | The New York Times