For now, the main question is whether Republicans can stomach a modest increase in tax revenue — even if it’s coupled with a much larger spending cut, and even if there’s an overall reduction in income tax rates.

There’s reason to believe that Bowles and Alan Simpson, the GOP co-chairman, will be able to corral the support of 14 of the 18 members — the supermajority needed to send the recommendations to Congress. But that’s where optimism dies.

You’d think that the Tea Party, which claims as its one unifying principle an aversion to the bloated size and scope of government, would leap at a deal like this and would press other conservatives to do the same. Yet it appears that the Tea Partyers and their allies would summarily reject anything that might be labeled a tax increase — even eliminating tax giveaways and loopholes.