Now that it's official and the so-called supercommittee in Congress has declared its members can't agree on how to cut about $1.2 trillion from the next decade's federal budget deficits, the "what next" stories are everywhere.
And many are zeroing in on the political effects.
NPR's Liz Halloran runs through the possible scenarios and concludes that only thing seems certain: We're in for "a long election-year debate over the Bush tax cuts, and a clear party divide over who pays to reduce the nation's deficit — and how."
The Hill thinks "the supercommittee's deadlock gives leaders in both parties plenty of ammunition for the 2012 campaign," and not just in the race for the White House. "Senate Republicans say they will use the supercommittee debate to target vulnerable Democrats. ... Democrats will use the supercommittee's deliberations to bolster their argument that Republicans want to slash programs that help the middle class to protect the rich from paying "their fair share."
And, as The Wall Street Journal says, the collapse of the supercommittee's effort "clears the way for a yearlong legislative battle over whether to block [automatic spending] cuts or to replace them with another broad deficit-reduction plan."
The New York Times finds a glimmer of good news:
" 'There could be a bit of a silver lining,' said Rosanne Altshuler, an economist at Rutgers University who served on President George W. Bush's 2005 tax reform panel. 'It forces us to come to terms with cuts in areas that have been difficult to touch — the military and Medicare. We may not like how the cuts are going to be done, but we better start dealing with the fact that cuts are going to have to be made.' "