July 30, 2011

THE PROSPECT THAT ONE'S TAXES WILL BE RAISED IN THE MORNING TENDS TO FOCUS THE MIND:

All Eyes on the Senate: Can Two Veterans Deliver a Debt Deal? (Jay Newton-Small, July 30, 2011, TIME)

Of course, Reid and McConnell know how to play the game. They're experts in Senate arcana -- obscure rules they've tried to exploit to shape the schedule of this weekend's debt ceiling showdown. "At the end of the day they are both pragmatists," says Adam Jentleson, a Reid spokesman. "Both feel very strong about the institution and the importance of its rules and traditions." And it's that outlook that has positioned them for their critical roles in the waning days of debt-ceiling negotiations.

The product of weeks of quiet talks, the deficit reduction bills Reid and McConnell are crafting are not so far apart in substance. They have more or less agreed on roughly $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts over the next decade, including $36 billion from the 2012 budget. They have also agreed to call for the formation of a commission that would look for an additional $1.8 trillion in savings, and, provisionally, would not be tied to any debt ceiling hike. Instead, in this iteration, a vote of disapproval would accompany the increase in borrowing authority early next year.

One area of disagreement, according to Democratic staff familiar with the talks, is over the enforcement mechanism that would ensure the commission's findings were enacted. The commission would be empowered to find both revenue increases and spending cuts that would sum to $1.8 trillion. Republicans are demanding that if those savings aren't met, an across-the-board cut of $1.8 trillion with no tax increases would be automatically phased in over 10 years. Democrats argue that such a trigger would give Republicans every incentive to sabotage an agreement through the formal commission, and that any trigger must also include revenue.


The more frightening the automatic cuts and hikes are to both parties the better.


Posted by at July 30, 2011 9:07 AM
  

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