Via everywhere, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has chosen Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) for the Super Congress, the bipartisan committee charged with finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years. They will make up 1/4 of the 12-member committee: the other Majority and Minority Leaders in each chamber of Congress will chose the other nine.
None of the three were part of the Gang of Six, the bipartisan Senate group that devised a deficit reduction plan this year. Baucus appeared on the Bowles-Simpson Catfood Commission, but ultimately voted against the recommendations. He also was part of the Biden talks during the debt limit. The Huffington Post had reported that Baucus wouldn’t be part of the committee.
Murray is the head of the DSCC, the campaign arm for Senate Dems, and next year will likely be consumed with protecting conservative Democrats in tight elections in states like Montana, Missouri, Nebraska and West Virginia.
Senator Kerry also endorsed that goal. The United States must show the markets that it is “deadly serious about dealing with its long-term structural debt,” he said, and the way to do that is by “putting a plan on the table, $4 trillion plus, if necessary.”
None of the three are up for re-election in 2012, perhaps the most important characteristic qualifying them for the position.
The rest of the committee members must be named by August 16, but in a way this was the most important announcement of the four. If there’s going to be slippage from any hardline positions on entitlements or taxes, it’s going to come from the Senate Dems, in all likelihood.