As the debt debate shifts to the 12-member joint super committee created by the deal President Obama signed into law this week, Republicans have said they won’t appoint anyone who will even consider raising tax revenues. “The goal of the joint committee shall be to reduce the deficit” by at least $1.5 trillion, according to its text. There are, of course, two ways to balance a budget — raise revenues or cut spending — but bowing to Tea Party pressure, GOP leaders have already taken one off the table, neutering the committee before it is even formed.
Frustrated by the GOP’s refusal to come to the negotiating table with open minds, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who is tasked with appointing three members to the committee, rhetorically raised the question of not appointing anyone to the committee. While stopping short of issuing a threat, in an interview with Politico, Reid suggested these pre-conditions would make the negotiating process futile, and thus perhaps not worth engaging in:
Reid is already upset that Republican leaders have declared that they will not appoint anyone to the joint committee who backs any tax hike, a virtual replay of the spending cuts vs. new tax revenues fight that consumed Washington for the past several months. “So what does that leave the committee to do?” Reid said. “Should Pelosi and I just not appoint and walk away?”
Democrats already conceded to a deal with zero revenue increases in the initial debt ceiling agreement, and doing so again would imperil the committee’s ability to reduce the deficit. Thus, progressives are calling on Democrats not to accept any deal that doesn’t include at least some revenue increases. By insisting on appointing lawmakers with pre-conditions, Republicans are effectively dooming the entire process — which was intended to show that bipartisan cooperation is still possible in Washington — before it even gets under way.