Real work on debt limit still to come

Big decisions on taxes, entitlements kicked to 12-member ‘supercommittee’

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Republican aides signaled last week, when the committee idea was first being mooted, that they would make sure not to include any tax-increase proponents.

But Mr. Reid on Monday said he might go a different way and name Senate Democrats who are open to dealing on all sides.

“One of my friends asked me, says he’d like to be on the committee, but I think it doesn’t bode well for me to chose someone the world knows how they feel about it before they go into it,” Mr. Reid said. “It’s extremely important that I pick people who are willing to make hard choices but are not locked in.”

Not everyone thought the committee was set up to succeed. For example, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, told MSNBC it was “doubtful” the committee would be able to work “in a positive fashion.”

While those inside the Capitol said having only members of Congress sit on the committee is good because it means accountable lawmakers are in control, history also suggests those people are the most politically risk-averse.

The president’s recent deficit commission failed to report back a deal mainly because the members of Congress were unable to get on board. Five of the six outside members signed onto the final deal, but just half of the dozen lawmakers on the committee did — leaving them shy of the 14-vote supermajority needed to make an official recommendation.

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