With Mitch McConnell in the driver’s seat, the president had no choice but to go along on his ride.
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The increases come at a high price. Congress will have to vote on a balanced budget amendment, but the debt ceiling increase isn’t contingent on passing it and sending it to the states for ratification. The increase is tied to the creation of a new congressional joint committee tasked to create legislation to accomplish about $3 trillion in budget cuts over ten years, with about $900 billion enacted immediately. The $900 billion is about the same — and probably as puny in the first year — as the Boehner bill proposed.
The “supercommittee” will report by Thanksgiving in the form of legislation that will be submitted to both houses of Congress for a straight up-or-down vote.
McConnell stressed that the new committee, made up of six Republicans and six Democrats — will have a “broad mandate” and will be expected to deal with entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, tax reform and domestic spending. The crucial element still being negotiated is what Congress will be compelled by the law to do if the new committee either cannot agree on spending cuts or if its report fails to pass either the House or the Senate.
If the deal McConnell described becomes law, it will be the biggest deal since the Obamacare disaster. When that bill was signed, our eloquent vice president whispered sotto voce to Obama that it was a “big f****** deal,” and it was. This can be just as big. Whether it is depends on the “trigger” mechanism that will force spending cuts if the new committee can’t agree, or if its recommendations fail to pass.
The Republican members can be expected to insist on entitlement reform and big cuts to other domestic programs. You can’t get to the $3 trillion target without them. But the Democrats are targeting defense spending and — as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said yesterday — will fight for tax hikes cloaked in the guise of “tax reform.” The idea behind the trigger mechanism is to make the forced spending cuts so painful to each side that neither will risk them. This has to give conservatives pause.
According to several reports, the Democrats are making this a trigger-unhappy bill for conservatives. At last word, the cuts to be imposed if the committee fails to agree or if its recommendations are voted down would be split 50-50 between defense and domestic spending.
The Obama administration has already slashed defense spending by about $400 billion, and the president demanded another $400 billion be cut over the next ten years. None of the prior cuts were — and none of the future ones will be — based on what we need our military forces to be able to do. There’s no analysis of the threat matrix on which these cuts are being made and planned. The risk is too great: no further cuts can be made without that analysis. The proper analysis, when and if it’s made, will draw a bright red line below which defense cannot be cut. Republicans on the new committee must keep that in mind. Whatever the result of the “trigger mechanism” may be, it must not result in another major cut in the defense budget.
The bottom line is that the deal, if it is made on the terms McConnell outlined yesterday, is good if the new committee results in massive cuts to federal spending without slashing defense. It’s a deal worth making, but no conservative can rest easy until we see what happens with the November report of the new committee.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online