Now it is all about the supercommittee.
And the supercommittee is all about entitlements and national defense.
The most important committee in modern Congressional history will get to work soon, and the appointees to it will be very revealing on all sides. (Six Republicans and six Democrats, equally drawn from the two chambers.)
As the architect of the deal that prevented collision with the debt ceiling, market disruption and tax hikes, GOP Leader McConnell will surely only appoint people who supported him through that process and on the final vote. Speaker Boehner has guaranteed that no tax hikes will come from the supercommittee, so Members urging ambitious plans to remake the tax code would be misplaced as such grand plans do indeed raise taxes on millions while lowering them for others. Majority Leader Cantor and Budget Chair Ryan plus one other well-known deficit hawk would make great sense.
What Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do with their appointments will determine whether the Democrats really want to campaign as enemies of national defense.
For that is what the Democrats have done, and that is the double-edged nature of the “trigger” from the GOP’s perspective. If the Democrats on the supercommittee do not agree to reform entitlements, those Democrats will set off a set of budget cuts and a chain of events that deeply gashes an already-budget starved national defense and homeland security system. (Here’s a review of what the bill already cuts from defense.) The GOP presidential candidate is already guaranteed to be running on the president’s incredible incompetence abroad and on the hollowing out of the military. If the supercommittee’s Democrats refuse to do what must be done on issues such as the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare, they will be putting their party back in front of the public as the reflexively anti-defense lefties who once earned the Democrats the title of “San Francisco Democrats” in Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s famous 1984 GOP Convention speech.
I will be spending quite a lot of time on this issue over the next few weeks and months, as the Democrats will try to disguise their assault on DoD.
Whatever the merits of the deal, it did bring great clarity to the 2012 election debate, as will the supercommittee’s work product.