• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Congress May Try To Prevent Automatic Cuts If SuperCommittee Fails

Senator Pat Toomey said this morning that Congress may end up working around the automatic cuts included in August’s budget deal if the Supercommittee fails to reach a budget deal that can be passed by Congress:

A member of the deficit super committee says Congress likely would rethink allowing the automatic budget cuts to be triggered if the panel fails to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in savings, or if Congress fails approve such a plan by Dec. 23.

“First of all, I’m not giving up on getting something done. I really think we still can and I am going to do everything I can to achieve that,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., pressed during an appearance Sunday on Fox News Sunday about whether the 12-member panel will reach agreement on a plan by its Nov. 23 deadline.

But if agreement is not reached on how to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the nation’s deficit over the next decade, Toomey said, “I think a lively debate will occur” over whether to allow the automatic cuts take place—so-called sequestration—despite President Obama’s insistence on Friday he would not go along with any attempt to turn them off.

“But in the very very unfortunate event that we don’t, I think it’s very likely that Congress would reconsider the configuration of that sequestration. And consider is this really the best way to do it,” said Toomey.

He added that the debate likely would be about the “nature of those cuts—which I think the cuts have to occur, but they might occur in a different fashion.”

Toomey’s comments come amid growing speculation that Congress could change the breakdown of the $1.2 trillion in cuts that would automatically kick in if the panel and lawmakers fail to reach a deal—half of which would come from the Pentagon and the other half from domestic programs. Republicans, in particular, have complained that such automatic would be particularly harmful to the military.

But the White House put out a statement Friday underscoring its position that the sequestration was put in place to help force a deal to slash the debt, and should not be reconsidered.

The committee’s deadline expires on the 23rd, and there are plenty of procedural obstacles that would make it hard to take apart the deal that was reached in August, not the least of them being the Senate filibuster. However, it’s clear that there area a not insignificant number of Republicans who aren’t comfortable with the cuts to defense spending that would be implemented under the deal, and a not insignificant number of Democrats who aren’t comfortable with the cuts on the other side of the ledger. The problem that any effort to change the automatic cuts faces is two-fold. First, it would require reaching a new deal which is what the Supercommittee is apparently failing at doing spectacularly. Second, it would require the President to agree and the White House seems rather insistent right now that the current deal will stand absent something from the Supercommittee.

The real problem Congress faces here, both parties, is that if they try to change the deal if (when?) the Supercommittee fails, it’s going to further damage whatever credibility they have left on deficit reduction. With an election coming up, and with Congressional approval ratings in the basement already, that’s probably not a risk they ought to take.

 

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tano says:

    Seems like the President might have a strong hand here if he knows how to play it. The position he has taken so far seems promising…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Senator Pat Toomey said this morning that Congress may end up working around the automatic cuts included in August’s budget deal if the Supercommittee fails to reach a budget deal that can be passed by Congress:

    Wait, if they do that then this entire thing will have been a giant sham.

    Which would be so very different from most of what goes on in this Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. I’m shocked, SHOCKED to discover that having arrived back at the can, Congress has decided to kick it even further down the road.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. Ozark Hillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds: What…. You thought they might actually show some courage and make a few compromises that would get a deal done? ;-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    The real problem Congress faces here, both parties, is that if they try to change the deal if (when?) the Supercommittee fails, it’s going to further damage whatever credibility they have left on deficit reduction.

    Good. The last thing we need is a reduction in the deficit, and I for one hope they just keep on bickering.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. ponce says:

    I don’t think Congress will reconsider.

    The Republicans have abandoned the military now that gays can openly serve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Reading an Internet comment thread is like peering through the looking glass into a parallel universe. Seriously. Leftism truly is a mental disorder.

    In any event, whether there’s a deal or not, or if they punt again, or even with the automatic “cuts” being triggered, the long-term fiscal picture really won’t change. Without fundamental reforms to Social Security and Medicare, i.e., weaning Zombieland off those systems, the U.S. ultimately will look a lot like PIIGS, but with higher inflation to boot. Not a pretty picture. I expect to be short selling Treasury notes at some point within the next 10-15 years. If Generation Y were a stock or a bond, I’d already be short selling it, on leverage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @Ozark Hillbilly:

    Lucy: This time, Charlie Brown, I’ll really hold the football.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. John Peabody says:

    Heh. Good one, Mr. Reynolds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. Ben Wolf says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: Great news: Cullen Roche recently posted regarding your ignorance of how inflation works, so now I don’t have to.

    Hardly an hour goes by without some pundit pushing the possibility of some kind of run away inflation, with Zimbabwe and Wiemar rolling off the tongues of ordinary Americans everywhere. And Congressman and candidates of all persuasions continuously lambaste the Fed for debasing the currency.

    There’s no question the Fed has been trying to reflate, particularly with regard to housing. They were not going to make the mistake Japan made, so they rapidly dropped the fed funds rate to near 0%, provided unlimited bank liquidity, and then went on to buy $trillions of US govt. securities in an attempt to support demand and prices by adding more liquidity and further bringing down long term interest rates and mortgages. The stated and obvious intent has been to do everything they can to support a private sector credit expansion that would support prices and the aggregate demand needed to reduce unemployment.

    For all practical purposes the Fed has done it all. And yet unemployment remains at depression levels of over 9% (and over 16% the way it used to be calculated not long ago) and the only thing keeping what’s called ‘inflation’ over 1% is a foreign monopolist supporting the price of crude oil.

    http://pragcap.com/it-must-be-impossible-for-the-fed-to-create-inflation

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. ponce says:

    Cullen Roche recently posted regarding your ignorance of how inflation works, so now I don’t have to.

    Ben,

    I know you’re never wrong, but you have linked to an article by someone called Warren Mosler.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @ponce: It’s a cross-post on Cullen’s blog, ponce. Surely you’re familiar with the concept.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. ponce says:

    Whatever rationalization you tell yourself to maintain your false sense of infallibility, Ben.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0