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In Political Crosshairs, Staff That Saves Congress: Ezra Klein

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- As you have no doubt heard by now, the supercommittee failed. So did the Obama-Boehner negotiations that preceded it, and the Biden-Cantor negotiations that preceded that. Those efforts failed because the principals -- and the political bases they represent -- couldn’t come to an agreement. What chance they did have was almost entirely because of the staff scurrying in the background.

The idea that a handful of politicians, few of whom have any formal background in economics or budget analysis, were the ones doing the heavy policy lifting, is laughable. They’re in the room to make the final decisions. In some cases, they’re there to show that they and their party are taking the negotiations seriously. It’s common to hear stories of bored legislators tapping their feet through these sessions like schoolchildren waiting to be released for recess.