Speaking of Budget Politics (Obama’s “debt failsafe”)

From the President’s speech about the budget and deficit reduction:

But just to hold Washington – and me – accountable and make sure that the debt burden continues to decline, my plan includes a debt failsafe.  If, by 2014, our debt is not projected to fall as a share of the economy – or if Congress has failed to act – my plan will require us to come together and make up the additional savings with more spending cuts and more spending reductions in the tax code.  That should be an incentive for us to act boldly now, instead of kicking our problems further down the road.

Quite honestly, building in a “failsafe” like this (or a”trigger” as it is being called) is kicking the can down the road in the sense that it allows legislators to avoid making hard choices in the now, because they know that the failsafe will kick later.  Further, the incentive in such a situation is to get as much as one can in the now in the hopes that when the failsafe kicks in later that that which you have secured for your constituents will escape those future cuts.

Plus, we have heard these types of proposals before.  They don’t work.

FILED UNDER: Deficit and Debt, US Politics,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Is a failsafe anything like a lockbox?

  2. steveegg says:

    Stephen Bainbridge says:
    Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 15:05
    Is a failsafe anything like a lockbox?

    Not quite. The further tax increases will be holding at the failsafe points until the intentional overspending triggers the go code.