Supercommittee looking for an 'out' on tax increases
Whenever congress gets stuck, they start complaining and pass the buck.
Or kick the can down the road:
With a little over a week left to reach a deal, members of the Congressional deficit reduction panel are looking for an escape hatch that would let them strike an accord on revenue levels but delay until next year tough decisions about exactly how to raise taxes.
Under this approach, the panel would decide on the amount of new revenue to be raised but would leave it to the tax-writing committees of Congress to fill in details next year, well beyond the Nov. 23 deadline for the panel itself to reach an agreement. That would put off painful political decisions but ensure that the debate over deficit reduction stretched into the election year.
"There could be a two-step process that would hopefully give us pro-growth tax reform," Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the top Republican on the panel, said Sunday on the CNN program "State of the Union."
Members of Congress and their aides said they were still skeptical that the panel could agree on a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases to reduce budget deficits by $1.2 trillion over 10 years, the minimum set by law.
If the panel falls short, a series of automatic cuts, split evenly between military and civilian programs, would take effect, starting in 2013. Some fear that such a failure could lead to the kind of stock market slide and loss of investor confidence that accompanied stalled efforts to raise the federal debt limit earlier this year.
As usual, some kind of deal that papers over differences will be struck at the 11th hour - or even 12th. Both Congress and the president will agree the terms of the debt ceiling deal have been met in order to avoid the across the board cuts and then the battle will begin again as both sides start to fill in the details.
Or, Obama might cut the cord altogether and refuse to sign off on such an agreement, in which case the cuts will impact Medicare and Social Security almost as heavily as defense. It's hard to see how a Democratic president would allow such cuts but Obama is a desperate man and will do anything at this point to get re-elected. If he thinks gashing the old folks is the path to victory, he will probably take it.