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Don't Be Fooled, Super Committee's Failure Is Bad for America

A few months ago, Washington's big bad wolf was Republicans' refusal to compromise by supporting any deficit reduction plan that included tax increases. Republicans were unreasonable, editorial pages fulminated, obstructionist and standing in the way of meaningful reform.

On Monday, the Super Committee admitted it had failed to cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit over 10 years. Citizens Against Government Waste spokesperson Leslie K. Paige called it "the unpardonable turkey." At least this turkey cannot be laid on the GOP's doorstep.

Last week, a Republican on the Super Committee did try to compromise. As Politico reported, Sen. Pat Toomey, (R-Pa.), offered a 10-year, $1.5 trillion debt reduction plan that would raise about $500 billion in new revenue while cutting spending by $750 billion.

Toomey is about the last Republican you would expect to support an increase in taxes. When the freshman senator was president of the Club for Growth, the organization was a champion of supply-side economics and the scourge of Republicans willing to compromise on taxes. Toomey's very placement on the 12-member bipartisan Super Committee reinforced the Beltway view that Republicans would not try to cut a deal.

Toomey comes from the school that contends Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Democrats advocate raising tax rates on the rich to address the deficit; Republicans believe that such increases could topple the shaky U.S. economy. The middle-ground position holds that flatter federal taxes -- with lower rates but fewer deductions -- could yield more revenue and spark economic growth.

"If I were king, I wouldn't do it this way," Toomey told Politico. "I'd do it differently, but I'm not king."

But Democrats didn't bite. They have been content to watch the cookie crumble -- as long as they can complain that Republicans should have agreed to raise not just taxes, but tax rates, on the rich.

Debra J. Saunders is a columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle. To continue reading her column, click here.