Now that there's nothing left to be secretive about, Super Committee Democrats and Republicans are sharing details about the deficit-reduction panel's fabulous collapse with members of the press. In short: the committee's failure to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit savings was not for lack of food, beer, changes of scenery or sideshow entertainment.
In a behind-the-scenes account, Politico's Jake Sherman, Manu Raju and John Bresnahan show how Republicans had checked out from negotiations, acknowledging that the two sides were not going to come to an agreement on taxing and spending. "On Thursday night, wearing a baseball cap and jeans, Camp retreated to Penn Quarter Sports Tavern with Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), where they watched the New York Jets play the Denver Broncos on TV. His tax expertise wasn’t needed because no compromise was close," they report. "On Sunday, a day before the panel’s deadline, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) was at the Washington Redskins game. While at FedEx Field, Upton jumped on a conference call with supercommittee colleagues who had left D.C. for the Thanksgiving holiday."
Republicans weren't the only ones enjoying the pro-football season as the committee's deadline drew nearer. As talks began to sour earlier this month, "[Sen. Patty] Murray's staff ate snacks and watched the New England Patriots play the New York Jets" while a new proposal from Republicans was being considered, report Reuters' Richard Cowan, Thomas Ferraro, Tim Reid and Donna Smith.
And then there's the food. Reuters reports that in early November, beef jerky was the snack du jour for at least seven members of the Super Committee. Meanwhile, The Washington Post notes a variety of culinary treats across a number of activities and backdrops. "There were late-night bull sessions, early-morning bike rides and group dinners. The panel’s members shared coffee and granola bars. But there was little dealmaking and never enough progress on any idea for them to fight over actual details," report David Fahrenthold and Rosalind Helderman. "Members spent hours sequestered in an underground room in the Capitol Visitor Center, and more hours in small groups in one another’s offices. But aides said these conversations often circled, again and again, around problems of taxes and spending."
The only thing sadder than the way the committee couldn't come to an agreement might be the way GOP committee member Jon Kyle tried to run away from reporters after the committee's failure yesterday. As Politico's Scott Wong reports:
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, a GOP supercommittee negotiator, didn't much care for getting jostled by reporters and photographers as he left Sen. John Kerry's office Monday. So his staff was determined not to let it happen again as the pack of journalists swelled outside Sen. Rob Portman's office, where Kyl was holed up for much of the afternoon. Kyl flack Ryan Patmintra created the diversion, emerging from the 3rd floor office and chatting up reporters and TV cameramen who surrounded him in a tight circle for any tidbit of news. Then Kyl, his security detail in tow, bolted out a side door. "There he is," one reporter shouted, triggering a stampede of journalists down the slippery halls of the Russell Building. But Kyl, perhaps the fastest speed walker in the Senate, had made a beeline to an awaiting elevator and scurried out of the building to his idling vehicle without issuing comment.