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Checking in on the Supercommittee

October 20, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

When Congress created the deficit supercommittee they attached a trigger to it that would automatically enact large cuts in defense spending if they failed to vote out a proposal. The idea was that nobody in Congress wants to make major cuts to defense so the threat would compel the supercommittee to accomplish the kind of deficit-reduction compromise that the full House and Senate were unable to achieve. More than halfway through the supercommittee’s tenure, however, the only progress being made involves finding a way out of the trigger (WaPo):

So far, defense hawks have focused on finding a way around the trigger, with some senior Republicans privately urging the supercommittee to count savings from the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, worth as much as $1.1 trillion over the next decade.

Boehner last week dismissed that approach, saying the reductions are “already going to happen.” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has criticized war savings as “gimmicks and accounting tricks.” But some GOP lawmakers privately view them as the best hope for avoiding automatic cuts to defense. Others, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have vowed to defuse the trigger through legislation if the supercommittee fails to act.

Predictably, the supercommittee is gridlocked over taxes. The Republicans won’t accept any deal that raises taxes and the Democrats won’t accept any deal that cuts spending without also raising tax revenues. Who could have guessed?

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