A Politico story (that didn’t seem to catch any attention) wrote about how Congress may deal with the sequester that has come about due to the failure of the so called Super Committee established by Congress after the last debt ceiling debacle.
The Super-Committee was formed as a result of a vote of Congress, and this Committee was charged with finding deficit reduction equal to $1.2 trillion over ten years. A failure to agree would trigger sequestration (cuts)equal to that $1.2 trillion, with half coming from defense, and half from non-defense. ***** What are the asterisks for? Well Congress actually mandated $492 billion from each side, with $216 billion coming from “reduced interest payments” as a result of the sequester. Even where Congress was trying to create enough pain to force a deal they just could not do so without gimmicks.
Of course the sequester was sold to the public as a way to “force” Congress to make a deal on deficit reduction. The public was shown the cuts, and told that neither side would be willing to “endure the pain” that cuts of these size would produce to each parties favored constituencies. That would force a deal. Guess what? The Super-Committee (so called)failed to reach agreement on even $1 in deficit reduction, so here comes the pain. FY 2013, under this scenario, will need $109 billion in cuts.
With Republicans screaming bloody murder about the defense cuts (that they voted for via the sequester) Congress is struggling to:
1) Find a way to do away with the sequester cuts without any deficit reduction plan.
2) Make it appear that they are not doing item 1.
How do you do that? One of the ways would be through another “sequester”, but one that does not kick in until Congress has had “more time” to do:
1) A deficit reduction deal
2) A tax reform deal.
3) Some combination of 1 and 2
What happens if they fail? SEQUESTER! And this sequester will impose “real pain” and be so tough that it will “force a deal”. Must be the re-run season. Some of the funniest comments in the Politico story come from Congressional Democrats. Lets take a look at some of them. From Kent Conrad:
“There would be consequences for failure to achieve the results,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the Budget Committee chairman and a proponent of the latest plan.
From Mark Begich:
“Everyone is trying to figure out how to not have to be the person to make the decision,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).
Not all of the funny lines came from Democrats: How about this note from Republican Rep. Kevin Brady.
Added Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee: “Watching how this has worked with the Budget Control Act, how it’s unfolding, I think there’s more skepticism about those procedural issues.”
Well said Rep. Brady! You are skeptical of process. Can’t imagine why. How about Republican Mike Crapo:
Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, a senior member of the Finance Committee, said he has “always advocated” an approach that would impose a cap on discretionary spending, place controls on the growth of entitlements and propose a “structure” for tax reform that would be enforced by a mechanism written into law.
“Let the details of that be put together by the germane committees,” he said. “But it has to be something that’s solid enough that it has to be done.”
Enforced by a mechanism “written into the law”, sort of, well almost like, a sequester. But lets call it something else.
It really would be funny if it were not so serious. Sequester 2, coming to a theater near you!