House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) selected Reps. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) for the debt committee charged with coming up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. These are “safe” picks from her standpoint; the first two are in the Democratic leadership and Van Hollen is the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee. None is a maverick. All support tax hikes.
House Republican aides rolled their eyes when I asked about their reaction to Pelosi’s picks. One scoffed, “No surprises, really. About what you’d expect. Liberal Democrats appointed to try and stop real reform.” Another commented that the picks are “about as reasonable as she is.” It was not a compliment.
The question remains, however, how critical the picks really are and whether the key decision makers remain the House and Senate leaders, as was the case in the debt-ceiling talks. It is significant that both sides felt the need to reassure their base (Republicans picking opponents of tax hikes, Democrats selecting big spenders) rather than demonstrate their willingness to wheel and deal. Maybe the remnants of the Biden talks can be used to craft a deal. Perhaps Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has it all mapped out. At this point, however, neither side seems to be in a compromising mood.