Sarah Binder wonders whether the the debt ceiling bill's Joint Committee, which is tasked with finding 1.5 trillion in savings, will succeed:
Congress often kicks the can down the road to avoid blame for tough decisions. By adding draconian spending cuts (balanced between defense and domestic accounts) should the committee, Congress, or the president fail to agree to a deal, Congress and the president have rigged the can to explode. This suggests a more credible commitment to making the committee succeed than is usual for past delegations of authority.
(Past delegations of course have not been made under the threat of a downgrade of the nation’s credit worthniess.) Still, as many are beginning to speculate (Ezra Klein here, for example), it’s not clear whether one or both of the parties might prefer to watch the can explode than to craft or vote for a committee deal.
The country needs a political deal on health reform so that we can move ahead and address health care costs. It will be a 30-40 year struggle to get a sustainable health care system. The Super Congress is the last chance for this Congress to do anything consequential policy wise. Here is hoping they will not only tinker around the edges but seek a plan that could transform health reform for a toxic partisan battle into a something that both parties can get some credit for. Most importantly, let’s hope we can come to some way forward in which both parties will share responsibility for improving the health care system. It is a long shot, but we really do need a Super Congress that thinks big.