With President Obama on a nine-day trip to Australia, Indonesia, and Hawaii as Congress's debt super committee enters its endgame phase and yet another shutdown threat looms, it's a clear sign that the branches of government "are officially in the breakup phase," writes Carrie Budoff Brown in Politico. Whereas Obama used to get deeply involved in the legislative process, twice canceling international trips to deal with domestic crises, these days he is keeping his distance. And privately, at least, both Republicans and Democrats think that's just fine.
The super committee is supposed to present a plan for cutting $1.2 trillion in spending by Nov. 23, just four days after Obama returns. “It is a congressional committee with a mandate given by Congress and made up entirely of members of Congress," said the White House press secretary. "They should do their job. It is not that complicated.” Even though Obama's signature is needed on another spending bill by Nov. 18 to keep the government running, the president is not returning until the 19th, so instead will likely sign the measure by autopen, for just the second time in history.