Supercommittee co-chairs Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) reached an agreement today on the contested issue of who will serve as the unified staff director of the supercommittee and the answer is Mark Prater, a Republican who’s currently serving as deputy staff director and chief tax counsel on the minority staff of the Senate Finance Committee.
I think the right way to read this is that if the supercommittee doesn’t deadlock, that will have to be because Republicans agree to do something on the revenue side. And if Republicans agree to anything on the revenue side, that will have to be some kind of loophole-closing “reform” rather than higher rates. Which means that having someone who’s knowledgeable about tax law and also credible to Republicans run the show maximizes the odds that the committee will have some kind of result. Prater was, for example, involved in the 1997 budget negotiations that managed to raise revenues while cutting capital gains tax rates. He at least remembers, in principle, what a bipartisan revenue-raising initiative might look like.