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July 31, 2011

Tentative Budget Deal Reached

From ABC:

  • Debt ceiling increase of up to $2.8 trillion
  • Spending cuts of roughly $1 trillion
  • Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment
  • Special committee to recommend cuts of $1.8 trillion (or whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase)
  • Committee must make recommendations before Thanksgiving recess
  • If Congress does not approve those cuts by late December, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare.

Jeff Dunetz at Yid With Lid has more:

  • $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 spending cuts to achieve that amount of deficit reduction over 10 years. If that doesn't happen, across-the-board spending cuts would go into effect and could touch Medicare and defense spending.
  • If the Super Committee fails, Congress must send a balanced-budget amendment to the states for ratification (at least according to Major Garrett, the ABC report is that there has to be a Balanced budget vote either way)
  • The Super Committee is allowed to discuss spending cuts only...No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee's deliberations.

Jeff says he is going to check with his congressional aide sources in the morning and try to get more. If he does, I'll steal that too. From Major Garrett at National Journal:

In many respects, the deal will, if approved by all parties, resemble the contours of a short-lived pact negotiated last weekend by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

. . .

Among the newest wrinkles, according to informed sources, is an agreement to extend the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling very briefly to give the legislative process time to work without resorting to emergency, hurry-up measures.

Keep in mind, these reports are early. Details could change. But I have to say, at first glance, with those triggers in place, this does not sound like the capitulation some are saying it is. Consider: We got a short term fix on the dreaded deadline the White House has been raving about. That deadline, real or imagined, carried with it the threat of political damage to the GOP because of all that puffery. There are no new taxes. We got 1T in cuts agreed to now, though, granted, the cuts are mostly prospective. And we got language that triggers a balanced budget amendment if we can't agree upon the balance of the cuts. What's not to like about that, considering we only have one-half of one branch of government right now?

I suspect Obama finally got on the phone to GOP leadership because of recent reports the debt fight was hurting him in the polls. If anybody capitulated, it was him. You know that call was a hard for him to make. So, if the actual language of the bill resembles what these early reports are saying, I'd call this a great GOP victory.

Update: Jeff Dunetz links to this AP report that says under the deal Congress would be required to vote on the BBA but that none of the debt limit increase would be contingent on its approval. We were discussing this in comments, and the idea of debt deal language that triggers a BBA being sent to the states did sound a little too good to be true. Again, take all this with a grain of salt. These are the first reports.


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posted by rdbrewer at 12:12 AM

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