The debt deal is done—yet it's still not clear what it all means.
Neither side, it seems, is particularly happy about it—although everyone seems pleased that an agreement was reached before the White House's Aug. 2 deadline.
The markets did not react well—the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 266 points and below 12,000. The major ratings agencies are still hinting that a downgrade in the ratings of U.S. treasuries is still in the offing because the deal does not do enough to address the issue of long-term U.S. indebtedness—something that is linked directly to spending. [See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]
Right now a lot of attention is moving to the so-called "Super Committee," the joint committee of the U.S. House and Senate that will be charged with recommending ways to realize an additional an additional $1.5 trillion in cuts to the deficit by Thanksgiving.
If the committee's recommendations, which must be brought to the floor of both chambers for approval and which cannot be amended, are not adopted then across-the-board cuts in spending will be triggered to find the additional savings.
Whether it is or not is uncertain, but Washington was all aflutter Tuesday with a rumor that anyone who voted against the debt ceiling compromise would be prohibited from serving on the committee.
Kentucky's Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, shot the rumor down, saying through a spokesman that GOP senators who vote against the deal will not be barred from serving. [See a slide show of who's in and out for the GOP in 2012.]
Nevertheless, there are those who believe that since, as legendary conservative activist Morton Blackwell says, "Personnel is policy," the composition of the committee will determine the content of its recommendations.
The goal therefore is to make sure that only reliably anti tax hike members of the committee be appointed by the GOP leadership—since seven votes out of 12 are required to move its report to the floor.
With the House being reliably strong—and its members tested on the tax issue—the attention is focused on the Senate. Names being floated include Kentucky's Sen. Rand Paul, Utah's Sen. Mike Lee, S.C.'s Sen. Jim DeMint or Pennsylvania's Sen. Pat Toomey—all of whom oppose new taxes as a way to resolve the debt crisis and all of whom supported "Cut, Cap and Balance."
Others suggest a smart way to go. Rather than advocate the appointment of particular personalities to the committee, those who fear it will be used to raise taxes are better off advocating for the principles we want supported by whomever is selected—no taxes, real spending cuts, perhaps even an end to current services budgeting so that all future cuts would have to be “real” rather than achieved by shaving points off the baseline.
By advocating for policies rather than personalities, those who are worried about the possibility of tax hike will avoid the chance they will be put in the position of having to support a deal being offered by a member of Congress whose appointment to the "Super Committee" they not only endorsed but for which they called. [See who is donating to your member of Congress.]
Even though the deal is done it is far from finished. It is unlikely that either side will stand down—especially on this issue of new taxes and revenues, which still remains high on the list of things President Barack Obama wants.