Did you think the recent debt-ceiling debate was brutal? Did the vision of political leaders playing chicken with the U.S. economy make your carotid arteries throb with tension, the bile rise in your throat and curses form on your lips?
Thought so. Well, it’s coming back soon, promising to be more intense. The rapprochement between the White House and congressional Republican leaders (who control the House and thus the balance of power in the triangle) ended the immediate crisis Tuesday but also postponed some tough decisions until later in the year, when the 2012 presidential and congressional races will be even closer.
A bipartisan “super-committee” of House and Senate members must push through $1.5 trillion worth of cuts in entitlement or discretionary spending or revenues (or a combination of all three) before the end of the year, or automatic cuts in defense and domestic spending, including Medicare, will be triggered.
The leaders who will appoint the 12 members of the committee aren’t backing off the partisan positions at the heart of the train wreck this time: Republicans insisting that any tax increases be off the table, and Democrats insisting that corporations and wealthy people should be required to pay more to solve the debt problem created in part by the generous tax cuts they’ve enjoyed for the past decade.