Sunday, July 31, 2011

Congress to Seal Debt Ceiling Deal

Congressional leaders have come up with a plan requiring a short-term debt extension of the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, something that was unacceptable a few hours ago. Obama said he would sign the extension only if it was good for days, not weeks (remember Libya?).

Betsy's Page has the particulars and an interesting take by John Podhoretz.
* $2.8 trillion in deficit reduction with $1 trillion locked in through discretionary spending caps over 10 years and the remainder determined by a so-called "Super Committee."
* The Super Committee must report precise deficit-reduction proposals by Thanksgiving.
* The Super Committee would have to propose $1.8 trillion in spending cuts to achieve that amount of deficit reduction over 10 years.
* If the Super Committee fails, Congress must send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification. If that doesn't happen, across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect and could touch Medicare and defense spending.
* No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee's deliberations.
I have two questions: 1) Do the Super Committee members have to wear tights? 2) Why do the lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer sound so appropriate?
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
But wait! Reuters and Yahoo has more!
* The deal would allow President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling in three steps. Congress would get a chance to register its disapproval on two of these, but would not be able to block them unless it musters a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate -- an unlikely prospect.
* It envisions spending cuts of roughly $2.4 trillion over 10 years, which Congress would approve in two steps -- an initial $917 billion when the deal passes Congress and another $1.5 trillion by the end of the year.
* The first group of spending cuts would apply to the discretionary programs that Congress approves annually, covering everything from the military to food inspection.
* Those programs would be capped each year for 10 years. The caps would be relatively modest at first to avoid stifling the shaky economy -- spending for the fiscal year that begins October 1 would be only $6 billion below the current level of $1.049 trillion. The caps would have a greater impact in later years, when it is hoped that the economy will have recovered.
* Some $350 billion of the $917 billion total would come from defense and other security programs which now account for more than half of all discretionary spending. Republicans are resisting this idea and it is one of the few areas of dispute left.
* Automatic across-the-board spending cuts would kick in if Congress does not observe the caps in coming years.
* A 12-member congressional committee, made up equally of Republicans and Democrats from each chamber, would be tasked with finding a further $1.5 trillion in budget savings.
* That committee could find savings from an overhaul of the tax code and restructuring benefit programs like Medicare -- the politically risky decisions that lawmakers have not been able to agree on so far.
* The committee would have to complete its work by November 23. Congress would have an up-or-down vote, with no modifications, on the committee's recommendations by December 23.
* If the committee cannot agree on at least $1.2 trillion in savings, or Congress rejects its findings, automatic spending cuts totaling that amount would kick in starting in 2013.
* Those cuts would fall equally on domestic and military programs. Medicare would face automatic cuts as well, but Social Security, Medicaid, federal employee pay, and benefits for veterans and the poor would be exempt.
* The plan also calls for both the House and the Senate to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution by the end of the year. It is not likely to receive the two-thirds vote in each chamber needed for passage, but its inclusion will make it easier for conservatives to back the overall deal.
AH-HA! So, Congress gives the President control over debt limit increases, can only register its disapproval, and can't actually do anything without a nearly impossible two-thirds vote in both houses of congress. That's pretty much how Congress abdicated its war declaration power to the President. Meanwhile, spending cuts are only 'envisioned' for sometime over the next ten years. Again, "a pocket full of mumbles such are promises."



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

2 comments:

Mike's America said...

The deal sucks. But could we have gotten a better one?

We have to keep our eyes on the long game which must be to remove Obama from the White House and take control of the Senate. If that means going along with another $TRILLION or two in idiotic socialist pipedreams then so be it. Either that or we risk having Obama's stay in office extended costing trillions more.

dcat said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...!