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WASHINGTON — The failure of Congress’ supercommittee adds a new dimension to the 2012 political contests by drawing political battle lines around broad tax increases and massive spending cuts that are now scheduled to begin automatically in 2013.

President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger now must debate urgent alternatives for reducing deficits in the face of looming consequences of congressional inaction. The lines are sharply drawn. Obama supports deficit reduction that includes a mix of spending cuts and tax increases on the wealthy. Republicans have declared themselves averse to tax hikes.

An election shaping up as a referendum on Obama’s stewardship of the economy will now require the candidates to offer competing forward-looking deficit-reduction plans to avoid cuts and tax hikes that neither side wants to see materialize.


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