In the days following Hurricane Katrina, the nation was reeling over the death and destruction in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. But Kyl, now the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, saw opportunity: According to a voice-mail recording left at the time by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Kyl and Sessions were hoping to find a business owner killed in the storm so they could use that in their campaign to repeal the estate tax.
It was vintage Kyl: cold and ruthless.
So when the Arizonan was named as one of six Republicans on the debt supercommittee, Democrats feared the worst — and they got what they feared. It exaggerates little to say that Kyl thwarted agreement almost singlehandedly. While some Republicans on the panel — notably Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton — were, with House Speaker John Boehner’s blessing, prepared to strike a deal, Kyl rallied resistance with his usual table-pounding tirades.
There was an interesting exchange between Paul Krugman and Martin Feldstein (chair of Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers) on The NewsHour last night. Both men were talking about the Super Committee and why it failed. Krugman explained how the Democrats were, if anything, being far too generous in the offers they were making, whereas the Republicans, he explained, insisted on no tax increases whatsoever. What’s interesting is what Feldstein said: He blamed it on both parties (which is what forced Krugman to speak up in the first place). What was interesting was that Feldstein wasn’t even trying to blame it solely on the Democrats – the best he felt he could do (he could get away with) was to blame both Ds and Rs. I just found that very interesting, in terms of the Republicans worrying that they’re going to get the blame for what happened.