Even before President Obama signed the debt-ceiling deal into law on Tuesday, leading Democrats and Republicans started preparing for the next budget battle — picking members of the "super committee" that will spend this fall deciding how to cut $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years. The White House says Democratic committee members will propose shrinking deficits with both spending cuts and new revenue from tax reform, while Republicans will insist on keeping the discussion focused on spending cuts alone. If the super committee fails to draft a bi-partisan plan, or if Congress fails to approve it by December 23, across-the-board spending cuts will be automatically triggered. Who will come out on top in this next fight?
Republicans can prevail if they don't blink: "The key to winning the next round is pretty simple," says James C. Capretta at National Review. "Under no circumstances should the GOP appoint members to the joint committee who are willing to entertain tax increases." That way Democrats will have to either give up on tax hikes or face the deep, automatic spending cuts that will be triggered if the super committee is deadlocked. "If Republicans stand firm again," they can win the next battle, too.
"Pass the deal — but start preparing now for the next round"
Actually Obama has the upper hand this time: President Obama got rolled in Round 1, says Patricia Murphy at The Daily Beast, but he'll have "his most powerful weapon at hand" in Round 2. Obama can simply threaten to let the Bush-era tax cuts expire at the end of 2012 unless Republicans preserve the Democrats' "cherished programs" and allow some revenue increases. If the GOP buckles, Obama wins, and enters the "2012 elections as the honest, moderate broker between the extremes of both parties."
"Obama's tax hammer"
Everyone can win if both parties put rancor aside: To avoid another partisan food fight, says Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post, congressional leaders should appoint Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as super committee chair. The Arizona Democrat, still recovering from a January assassination attempt, made a surprise appearance at Monday's House debt-deal vote, and "her presence served as a chastening reminder about the importance of unity over division." If anyone can help the committee "transcend partisan divisions," she can. Then everybody wins.
"For the debt 'super-committee,' name Gabrielle Giffords as honorary chair"