Breaking: Reid appoints John Kerry, Patty Murray, and Max Baucus to Super Committee

That’s precisely what we need to reach a grand bargain. Hard-left dial tone Patty Murray and a guy who spent the past Sunday muttering in front of TV cameras about a “tea-party downgrade.” Bonus fun fact about Murray via Amanda Carpenter: She’s the head of the DSCC this election cycle, which means there ain’t no way no how no chance she’s signing off on any deal that involves even minor Medicare reform.


Not sure what to make of Baucus, though.

Murray is expected to co-chair the committee, officially named the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, along with a still unnamed House Republican. A spokesman for Reid did not respond to a request for comment.

Reid’s decision to tap Murray will likely be met with scrutiny, as she is also chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2012 election cycle. But she is also a member of leadership, a senior member of the Budget Committee, and a woman on what is likely to be a male-dominated committee.

Baucus is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee with jurisdiction over many areas, including entitlement programs, that the committee is expected to examine. Kerry, meanwhile, was selected for his stature and Senate tenure.

None of the three were members of the Gang of Six, but Baucus was part of the Biden deficit group that Cantor walked away from over taxes. Could he potentially be the seventh vote for a deal on the Super Committee? He comes from a red state, he’s an institution in the Senate, and he’s not up for reelection until 2014. He’s as insulated from a tough vote as one can be. He’s also, as noted in the quote, chairman of the Finance Committee, so if he blessed a deal, that would give it added credibility in the Senate. And he’s been reasonably good on taxes, so he might side with Republicans on tax reform. The bad news? He duly wet himself over Paul Ryan’s budget and he’s earned some fans at AARP for supporting “doctor fix,” which contributes mightily to Medicare continuously running over budget. He’s probably not signing off on any serious entitlement reform, in other words, although if the GOP can come up with some revenues via tax reform, that might encourage him to join them in a modest first step. He floated that idea himself, in fact, after Biden’s group melted down, proposing new Medicare cuts in return for new revenues. Then again, Baucus was on Obama’s Deficit Commission and ended up voting no on the final plan. Of course, so did Paul Ryan.


I’ll leave you with this thought, in case you’re under the mistaken impression that anything will be accomplished by this process:

Congress may undermine the deal that raised the U.S. debt ceiling by failing to agree on a plan to curb the deficit and then softening the impact of automatic spending cuts that would kick in to achieve the budget targets.

That’s the view of five former directors of the Congressional Budget Office…

While the cuts are supposed to be automatic, Congress can delay or override them if they prove too painful — defense spending would be reduced by 9.1 percent over a decade while non-defense programs would be cut 7.9 percent. That’s what lawmakers did with the 1985 Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act, the template for the trigger.

Update: Weigel sees a new “the Democrats caved again!” narrative brewing on the left over Baucus. “So the Democrats will have one of their compromisers on the committee. Unless the GOP puts up one of its compromisers — a neo-Gang of Sixer, or someone like Bob Corker — the Baucus move alone means a committee that leans right.”

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