• With: Kim Strassel, Jason Riley, Dan Henninger, Bret Stephens

    This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," November 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," it's all over, but the finger pointing. The bipartisan Super Committee goes bust. What happens now?

    Plus, the GOP candidates take on Obama and each other over foreign policy. How important will national security be in the coming election?

    And the world's population surpasses seven billion. Rekindling an age old debate, are there too many of us on the planet?


    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Although Congress has not come to an agreement yet, nothing prevents them from coming up with an agreement in the days ahead.

    As I have from the beginning, I stand ready and willing to work with anybody that's ready to engage in that effort, to create a balanced plan for deficit reduction.


    GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

    That was President Obama this week, reacting to the failure of the bipartisan Deficit Reduction Committee failing to reach an agreement, calling on members of Congress to forge ahead with a compromise before $1.42 trillion in automatic spending cuts take effect in a little over a year.

    How likely is any bipartisan agreement before the 2012 elections? Let's ask Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; editorial board member, Jason Riley; and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.

    So, Kim, this week, Barney Frank -- I know, your favorite congressman --


    GIGOT: -- said that the failure of this Super Committee is good for Democrats, will make it easier for them to retake the House. Is he right?

    STRASSEL: Well, look, this was -- what this was really about is the election, OK? What we have realized not just what it says on the Super Committee, but with the debt limit negotiations that preceded them this summer, this is about a different, fundamental difference in the philosophy of government. Democrats believe that all of the spending is fabulous and all you need to do is raise taxes. The Republicans have come to understand that this government growth is unsustainable and they want to do spending cuts and entitlement reform. Those differences, there's no middle ground. So what you have to have is an election and that's what they're fighting over. The Republicans think if they had agreed to taxes as part of this, it would have fundamentally hurt them in the election and they have a better shot having stuck to their principles.

    Kim, why do Democrats think this is good for them? Why did Barney Frank want it to fail?

    KIM STRASSEL, WASHINGTON COLUMNIST: Because they can come out and say, look, we want to preserve -- they're going to run this year on Medicare reform, suggesting that Republicans are trying to cut entitlements.

    GIGOT: I see.

    STRASSEL: They were never going to agree to a deal that dealt with entitlements because this is their election strategy. So they've now come out of this saying that they preserved these programs. And they'll be able to climb the Republicans are the ones that wanted to cut them.

    GIGOT: OK, Jason.

    JASON RILEY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: And President Obama had no real stake in this committee succeeding and it would interfere with his reelection campaign theme, which is going to be to run against the sort of do-nothing Congress. If Congress that succeeded in this and the Super Committee had succeeded, it would have upset that rhetoric.

    GIGOT: How do you run against a do-nothing Senate that's a Democratic Senate?


    RILEY: And also, how do you do that, when for the first two years of your presidency, your party had control of both the House and the Senate. He's hoping that Americans have short memories.

    GIGOT: Square this circle for me, Dan, politically. Did Democrats want this to fail? Did Obama want this to fail?

    DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: I think so. They wanted to run against the Republican Party as obstructionists. That basically, as far as I can tell, the party's entire campaign platform, to run against obstructionist Republicans.

    GIGOT: But, doesn't he need Independents? And wouldn't it help if they got some -- if he showed, look, we're making some progress on this, this problem.

    HENNINGER: You know, you're asking me to explain Barack Obama's political strategy.


    And that's hard to do going all the way back to Obama-care, which is now one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation that has ever been passed. So I can't quite explain Barack Obama. He has -- I've said many times, he has his principles and he wanted those taxes raised on the rich. That was his line in the sand and he wasn't going to get it --


    HENNINGER: -- and now he's going to run on that.

    GIGOT: He promised a veto in October of any deal that didn't include the trillion dollars of new tax revenue increases.

    He must have known, Jason, that Republicans couldn't possibly raise taxes by that much, a year after they ran and won the House, saying we won't raise taxes.

    RILEY: And remember the fallback position is a sequester, which is across the board spending cuts.

    GIGOT: Automatic spending cuts.

    RILEY: But not until after the election. And we know politicians can't think past the next election for the most part. His more immediate concerns here -- I think the Super Committee was a really sideshow as far as the White House was concerned. President Obama's immediate concern here is the extension unemployment benefits, the extension of payroll tax cuts. Those are coming down the pipe right now. He's much more concerned about that.

    GIGOT: Kim, what about this concern a lot of Republicans have over dense again cuts. About half of the sequester, the automatic spending reductions, would hit defense and Homeland Security, pretty severely, so much so even President Obama's own defense secretary, Leon Panetta, called the cuts devastating. Can Republicans put together a coalition that can stop these cuts?

    STRASSEL: I think they will, and that's what they're going to try to do. And when -- there are two things here, when you look at the big issue, the big numbers, over 10 years, those defense cuts do seem quite large. When you look at a one year thing, what it would take before they could get into office, for instance, if they were to win the White House, that number is a mistake. What they're going to try to do is bring the Democrats along and say, do you want the defense cuts that even Leon Panetta says, no. The president is already threatening to veto that. But the Republicans view is go ahead and do that, let's have a debate about the need to fund our military.