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Washington (CNN) - If you liked the debt ceiling debate of recent days, you probably will love the debate that will occur in the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year.
If you hated the current debate, you probably will despise the one coming up in four months.
That’s when the new 12-member special congressional committee is supposed to come up with its proposals for major entitlement and tax reform. Entitlement reform, by the way, is really a nice way of saying cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Tax reform is really a nice way of saying tax increases.
It may be possible to get six Democrats and six Republicans to agree on these kinds of painful choices, but it certainly won’t be easy.
Let’s say they come up with a set of recommendations. Both houses of Congress then will have to vote on the recommendations in a strict up-or-down roll call. If they vote to pass the legislation, Pres. Obama then would have to sign the legislation into law.
Those are all huge “ifs.”
There is a real possibility that won’t happen.
That would mean pulling the trigger on $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, half coming from defense programs and the other half from non-defense programs, including cuts in Medicare payments to health-care providers. Those cuts would begin in 2013.
The conservatives won’t like the Pentagon cuts; the liberals won’t like the Medicare cuts. Maybe that will give them the incentive to support the super committee’s recommendations – assuming the 12 members can come up with recommendations.
In short, the country may have avoided a debt ceiling disaster for now. But this debate is only just beginning.