Could Debt Super-Committee Succeed?

But the Biden talks never produced a full plan because House Majority Leader Eric Cantor left the negotiations after Democrats insisted on including tax revenues. Before it disbanded, the group had been talking about reducing the deficit by $2 trillion over 10 years and raising several billion in tax revenue.

So it is with four failed attempts under its belt that Washington turns to the debt super-committee.

In order for a commission such as the debt reduction super-committee to be successful, it must have an immediate threat, tight deadlines, a clear mission, and a required vote, according to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

By those standards this super-committee could succeed. If a solution is not reached there is a serious threat of financial calamity. The commission has a strict Nov. 23 deadline to present a plan. Its mission of reducing the deficit is clearly defined. Finally, its recommendation must be voted on by both chambers of Congress before Christmas.

But there is one glaring obstacle working against the commission: party ideology.

"Frankly, I'm not sure in this case they can do it," said former Congressman Bill Archer (R-Tx.), who served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee from 1996 to 2001.

Archer, who was part of a 1991 deficit reduction commission, said that with Republicans' strictly adhering to their no-tax-revenue line and Democrats opposed to deep entitlement cuts, a compromise will be significantly more difficult than it was 20 years ago.

"There weren't people who were totally committed as they are now," Archer said. "I'm not sure there is any amount of pressure that the Republican leaders in the House and Senate, even if they are willing to do it, can put on Republican members of this commission to include some increases in taxes."

Archer said the final deal will probably boil down to terminology, like "tax reform" versus "tax increases," which he said can "create an image which is different than what is actually going to happen."

He said if a compromise is reached, it will probably be because one Republican breaks ranks and supports a Democratic plan that includes tax revenue.

"I don't know what in the world they can promise him or use to coax him across the line, but that will be their goal," Archer said.

"In this type of negotiation you normally want to get something for what you give up," he continued. "And in most instances you want to be able to come out and say you got more than you gave up. The problem in this instance is, if you are a Republican and you give up anything on tax increases, you've really gone out on a very thin political limb. I'm not sure you would politically be forgiven."

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