Guess what? The Joint Select (Super) Committee appears to be deadlocked, with Republicans refusing to consider any new taxes and Democrats refusing to do a spending-only deal (via Goddard’s Political Wire). That’s not a surprise at all to those who had low expectations for the JSC to begin with (see, for example, Stan Collender). Careful, though: In the unlikely event that a deal does get made, it’s unlikely that we would see much sign of it now.
After all, the issues involved had been thoroughly hashed out during the various talks surrounding the debt-limit extension over the summer, and before that in last year’s deficit commission. If both sides decide to cut a deal, they’ll have little trouble putting something together quickly.
Moreover, the Thanksgiving deadline is a bit of a phony, anyway. Nothing happens after the deadline that can’t be undone if and when Congress chooses to do so. Even if legislators actually let sequestration eventually begin, they can always go back and undo cuts, either selectively or entirely, or they can cut a deal then for everything going forward.
Meanwhile, there’s no reason for either side to jump first, and certainly not in any way that the public gets any hint of. That’s just the nature of these sorts of negotiations. At best, you’ll get a parallel track, with everyone boasting of their toughness as loudly as possible while quietly doing the staff work necessary to accommodate a deal if one is to be reached. Again, since most of that work is already done, there’s really little reason to expect anything except for public stubbornness now.
So what should we make of these reports? Not much, probably — although it’s certainly possible that stories of deadlock are themselves trial balloons to test whether one or the other side would prefer a deadlock to making a deal. If that’s the case, I’m guessing those who prefer deadlock to a deal are going to be quite happy with the silence out there.