Former Obama aide Lawrence Summers writes in the Washington Post:
Remarkably for a matter so consequential, the deal calls for a "super-committee" that will seek to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion but lacks agreement on the baseline from which the $1.2 trillion is to be subtracted. Is it a baseline that includes or excludes the Bush tax cuts? Includes or excludes tax extenders and the annual fix for the alternative minimum tax?
Perhaps this was constructive ambiguity that allowed the debt compromise to get enough votes to pass. Democrats thought they were voting for one baseline, Republicans for another. It looks like it wasn't just Speaker Pelosi's ObamaCare that we had to pass before we found out what was in it; that characterization applies to Speaker Boehner's debt compromise, too. This is one of those issues that, had Speaker Boehner kept his pre-election 2010 "Pledge To America" to post bills online for three days before they were voted on, might have surfaced before the bill was voted on.
Mickey Kaus has an item that also highlights the difference over the baseline, without reference to Professor Summers.
Professor Summers also writes, in the same piece: "Despite claims of spending reductions in the range of $1 trillion, the agreements reached so far are likely to have little impact on actual spending over the next decade."