Matt Mackowiak

The 2012 political year is right around the corner and the recent failure by the so-called "Super Committee" to reach agreement on $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction will re-cast the environment on Capitol Hill and shape the 2012 campaign.

With divided control of Congress, and a 60-vote threshold in the U.S. Senate, major Congressional action before the 2012 election is now extremely unlikely.

Congress always seems to need a deadline to make the members focus on the country's business, and December promises to be a busy month. It's likely that members of Congress will do the following:

- Pass yet another temporary spending bill preventing a government shutdown on December 16.

- Extend the popular expiring tax provisions (payroll tax, research and development tax, etc.)

- Fix the alternative minimum tax and the reimbursement rates for Doctors in Medicare.

In recent years these actions have been taken each December before the end of the calendar (tax) year.

What has become clear this month, however, is that Congress cannot and will not take action on our trillion annual deficits, our $15 trillion debt or pass legislation that will markedly improve the economy.

Now, little more than 11 months from the 2012 election, the governing period has prematurely ended and the political season may begin in full swing, if it ever really ended after the 2010 election.

How will the Super Committee's failure to produce a result effect the 2012 election? Here are five ways the country will feel the impact of the committee's failure:

1. Congressional action is now effectively dead. Each year, Congress must do a few things to keep the country functioning. From now until the election next year, only the most mandatory business will be acted upon. That means action on expiring tax credits, temporary spending bills, nominations but little else. Capitol Hill will not be where the action is for the next year.

2. President Obama will blame Congress as he runs for reelection. Mr. Obama is facing a headwind in the form of a very weak economy and low job approval ratings. From a purely political perspective to run in 2012 he needed a villain. Now, the Obama campaign thinks they have one in the "dysfunctional Congress."

Had the Super Committee voted out a plan that was then passed by Congress, President Obama could have hailed the Committee's accomplishment as an achievement, but his campaign theme of running against the Congress would have been weakened. No matter. The Super Committee was designed to fail and the White House knew it. Now, they can try to blame Congress for the deficit and the debt.

3. The Bush tax cuts will be a major issue going forward. Nothing fires up the left wing of the Democratic Party like the Bush tax cuts. When President Obama agreed to temporarily extend them for two years in December 2010, the Democratic Party's base howled in anger. Congressional Democrats appear single-mindedly focused on killing the Bush tax cuts once and for all. Ending them would result in the largest tax increase in American history, over $1 trillion, and that was the price for a deal in the Super Committee. Republicans were not willing to pay it. Expect to hear about this issue often on the campaign trail.

4. America is still facing record deficits and record debt. President Obama promised to halve the deficit by the end of his first term. He didn't. In fact, the three largest deficits in American history (each over $1 trillion) are on President Obama's watch. Without congressional action to reduce spending, which neither President Obama nor congressional Democrats want or would allow, the record deficits will continue.

Our national debt just crossed $15 trillion, or 100 percent of our gross domestic product.

European nations like Greece and Italy were facing similar debt loads only a few years ago. Discussions of necessary austerity measures domestically will soon begin.

5. Fundamental differences between the two political parties will become more important. There are fundamental policy differences between the Republican and Democratic parties and the 2012 election will offer the public an opportunity to choose which vision of the future they prefer.

American is facing major obstacles over the next decade and critical action is required.

Republicans will propose cutting spending to 2008 levels, reducing and rolling back Obama-era regulation, lowering taxes and reforming the tax system and returning to a more limited government.

Democrats will propose bigger government, no reform of entitlements, tax increases and more regulation.

The reality is that President Obama has talked a good game about deficit reduction, but his actions have demonstrated a clear disregard for fiscal responsibility as he's only brought record deficits and our rising $15 trillion debt.

Whether Americans choose to hold him accountable for the decisions he's made as president remains to be seen. But the playing field upon which the 2012 election will be fought is evident. The only thing left to determine is President Obama's opponent.

Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News,, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.