A lot of punditry today is being directed at the super-committee of 12 that the debt-ceiling deal establishes, ostensibly to bring our fiscal house in order.
But God knows why. The idea that the Republicans on the committee will accede to any tax increases -- after House Republicans read John Boehner the riot act for talking tax increases with President Obama, and after Republicans in both houses unanimously rejected Harry Reid's bill that included tax increases as part of the mix -- couldn't pass muster with Dr. Pangloss. And even if, through acts of divine intervention and outright bribery, Republicans were persuaded to accept some tax hikes, the price they'd exact in return -- raising the eligibility age on Medicare, reducing Social Security benefits -- would be too high for congressional Democrats to accept, even if Obama has already signed off on them. Far more likely, as Ezra opined today, that Democrats will simply accept the cuts put in place by the trigger, which exempt Social Security and Medicaid, and half of which come out of the Pentagon budget. In an age of lesser evils, the Democrats are likely to prefer the triggered cuts to a deal that chips away at social insurance, much less a deal that preserves the 15 percent tax rate for hedge-fund operators.
All of which explains why Nancy Pelosi was eager to turn the topic from the committee of 12 to job legislation when reporters questioned her today on the debt-ceiling deal. "It's time for us to completely focus on jobs," she said. "I have no intention for the next weeks and months to be talking about this committee." Job-creation, of course, has long been the House Democrats' talking point (back when they had a majority, they even passed a second stimulus package, which went nowhere in the Senate), but Pelosi is not merely being polemical here. In apparently not expecting much to emerge from the special committee, she is also, and merely, being the voice of realism. Not a bad thing for pundits to aspire to as well.