Some details are out on the debt bill that Harry Reid signed onto this afternoon. This plan apparently was worked out between the White House and Mitch McConnell–no Democrats involved. It doesn’t sound as extreme as previous versions, but we won’t know until everything plays out, I guess. Reid is hoping to hold a vote tonight so the House will have time to respond tomorrow.
Here is how the deal will work, reported by Brian Beutler:
It guarantees the debt limit will be hiked by $2.4 trillion. Immediately upon enactment of the plan, the Treasury will be granted $400 billion of new borrowing authority, after which President Obama will be allowed to extend the debt limit by $500 billion, subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.
That initial $900 billion will be paired with $900 billion of discretionary spending cuts, first identified in a weeks-old bipartisan working group led by Vice President Joe Biden, which will be spread out over 10 years.
Obama will later be able to raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion, again subject to a vote of disapproval by Congress.
That will be paired with the formation of a Congressional committee tasked with reducing deficits by a minimum of $1.2 trillion. That reduction can come from spending cuts, tax increases or a mixture thereof.
So McConnell has accepted the possibility of tax increases. I doubt if that is going to go over very well with Boehner and his Tea Party nutbags. The trigger is still in the bill.
If the committee fails to reach $1.2 trillion, it will trigger an automatic across the board spending cut, half from domestic spending, half from defense spending, of $1.5 trillion. The domestic cuts come from Medicare providers, but Medicaid and Social Security would be exempted. The enforcement mechanism carves out programs that help the poor and veterans as well.
Politico reports that at 7PM, John Boehner finally announced a conference call with House Republicans at 8:30, so it should be starting as I write this. Says Politico:
A quick strong Senate vote for the deal would add to the pressure on Boehner, and Reid went so far as to suggest that the Senate could even vote Sunday night: “Hope so” was his answer to reporters after meeting with Pelosi. But from the administration’s standpoint, no deal is meaningful without assurance of Republican support in the House, and that remained a big question mark going into the evening.
Boehner’s office insisted that it was simply waiting to hear back from the White House on some “bottom-line” provisions, and indeed details were still being resolved. But administration officials said privately that pro-defense House lawmakers were putting pressure on the speaker over the Pentagon’s share of reduced 2012 appropriations as well as further threatened defense cuts if the deficit-reduction targets are not met.
So there you have it, but what does it all mean? My immediate reaction to the smaller numbers and the assurances on Social Security and Medicaid is that it’s some kind of trick to get us thinking the austerity psychosis in the White House is letting up a bit. But they still have the “committee” AKA Catfood Commission II to fall back on.
I’ll update in the comments if I hear anything more. Please do likewise if you’re surfing around.
And the worst Tea Party Terrorists are in the White House “negotiating” with themselves. The only explanation for the way Obama is acting is that he doesn’t want a second term. I just don’t see how he can think he’s going to be reelected either way–whether the U.S. defaults on its debts or Congresses passes one of the austerity plans, Obama is toast.
I guess he can’t wait to start raking in the millions he’ll get from the sitting on bank boards after this is all over. I used to think he was looking forward to making big bucks on the lecture circuit, but who will want to hear him speak about how he destroyed the social safety net and brought down the U.S. economy?
I thought I’d put up a post for those of us who want to keep tabs on what the Senate is doing this afternoon. I’ll have more info shortly, but feel free to document the ongoing slow-motion nightmare in the comments while I set up my laptop in front of the TV and turn on C-span.
The Reid plan failed to achieve cloture in the Senate, so it’s looking like whatever McConnell, Boehner, and Obama are cooking up is what we’ll get stuck with. Here is what is known about the plan that is on the table right now.
If Democratic and GOP leaders finalize a deal, they would still face the tough task of convincing their rank and file to swallow a compromise. Fervent liberals and conservatives could scuttle any deal between the White House and congressional leaders. Here are the details of the tentative pact, according to several sources who spoke to NJ on condition that they not be identified:
•$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 deliberation.
That last item remained a potential sticking point. Obama’s advisers insisted on the Sunday talk shows that the president expected tax increases to be part of the Super Committee’s plan. “I think any long-term deficit-reduction is going to include revenues,” Obama adviser David Plouffe told ABC’s This Week.
Yet Plouffe was unwilling to commit that revenue increases would automatically kick in — along with spending cuts — if the Super Committee doesn’t hit the $1.8 trillion target. McConnell bluntly said that “job-killing tax increases” are off the table.
The ever-hopeful Ezra Klein says Dems will lose now but could win later.
Democrats are going to lose this one. The first stage of the emerging deal doesn’t include revenue, doesn’t include stimulus, and lets Republicans pocket a trillion dollars or more in cuts without offering anything to Democrats in return.
The second stage convenes a congressional “Supercommittee” to recommend up to $2 trillion in further cuts, and if their plan doesn’t pass Congress, there’s an enforcement mechanism that begins making automatic, across-the-board cuts to almost all categories of spending. So heads Democrats lose, tails Republicans win.
It’s difficult to see how it could have ended otherwise. Virtually no Democrats are willing to go past Aug. 2 without raising the debt ceiling. Plenty of Republicans are prepared to blow through the deadline. That’s not a dynamic that lends itself to a deal. That’s a dynamic that lends itself to a ransom.
But Democrats will have their turn. On Dec. 31, 2012, three weeks before the end of President Barack Obama’s current term in office, the Bush tax cuts expire. Income tax rates will return to their Clinton-era levels. That amounts to a $3.6 trillion tax increase over 10 years, three or four times the $800 billion to $1.2 trillion in revenue increases that Obama and Speaker John Boehner were kicking around. And all Democrats need to do to secure that deal is…nothing.
The only thing that can prevent increased revenue, says Klein, is the Obama administration. That’s pretty pathetic. Even Klein isn’t sure Obama will let the Bush tax cuts expire.
I’ll put further updates in the comments.