There's been some debate over whether the supercommittee will simply deadlock over the Republican refusal to raise any taxes, or whether Republicans will roll Democrats again and force another all-cuts budget deal. I am less sure, in part because the alternative to a deal (huge cuts to medical providers and the military) frightens Republicans as much as Democrats. Pay close attention to this rhetoric:
Democrats said the threat of such large automatic defense cuts would give them powerful leverage to renew their demand that Republicans consider tax increases for corporations and the wealthy as part of the solution to the nation’s budget problems.
“Republicans are going to have to decide whether it’s more important to protect special-interest tax breaks or whether it’s more important to protect the national security of the United States,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
“That’s the choice they’re going to have to make.”
In an interview, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed that the trigger is “really catastrophic,” and that the consequences of not coming up with a bipartisan debt-reduction plan would be “unacceptable.” Referring to the new committee, McConnell said, “We all view this as a real deal.”
But Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate — who is widely viewed as one of McConnell’s likely picks to serve on the panel — called the fate of the tax issue uncertain.
“What remains to be seen is whether any discussion of taxes is appropriate,” Kyl said. “I think it’s pretty unlikely.”
It's Republicans now emphasizing we have to make a deal. And it's Democrats sounding perfectly willing to walk away from the table. Note, also, that Jon Kyl sounded a less-than-absolutist note about revenue.
I'm certainly not predicting a deal. I'm just saying that we shouldn't assume that this episode will play out like the last one.