THE BLOG
08/11/2011 08:59 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2011

Suuuper Committee!

Nine of the 12 members of the so-called super committee have been named so far... see here for the details.

First, let me say that these names crack me up... "Gang of Six" made those guys sound a lot tougher than they really were, I think. And "super committee" implies powers that are much more interesting than the powers these legislators actually possess.

Beyond that important insight, here's how I view this right now.

The president kind of set this up the other day as follows:

Last week, we reached an agreement that will make historic cuts to defense and domestic spending. But there's not much further we can cut in either of those categories. What we need to do now is combine those spending cuts with two additional steps: tax reform that will ask those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare.

So if one side gives on taxes, then the other side will give on entitlements. And if neither side gives, the automatic trigger kicks in.

I wouldn't make too much out of the personalities of the group. The Democrats probably would give something on Medicare or Social Security, but not if the Republicans won't budge on revenues. So the smart money is on deadlock.

One thing on the revs: it's got to be real. Beware of a) meaninglessly small concessions like the corp jet subsidy, or b) "revenue neutral" tax reform that raises revenue by closing loopholes but gives it all back through lower rates. Those options are unacceptable because neither of them take pressure off of spending cuts.

As I tried to show with the picture in this post, and will continue to stress as the super heroes of the committee emerge from their secret fortresses, we cannot achieve a sustainable budget without revenues in the deal.

This post originally appeared at Jared Bernstein's On The Economy blog.