Archive for November 16, 2011
There are seven days until the November 23 deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the so-called “supercommittee” of Congress that is meeting pursuant to the agreement negotiated between the House leadership, Senate leadership, and President Obama as a result of the August, 2011, showdown over the debt ceiling.
Recall that on August 2, the House (by a vote of 269–161) and Senate (74–26) passed a bill, signed into law by President Obama, that authorized an increase in the debt ceiling, contingent on the creation of a joint select committee that would identify $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years and which also mandated a largely symbolic vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. (It’s largely symbolic because it’s unlikely to get a 2⁄3 majority in both houses.)
On September 19, President Obama suggested a deficit reduction plan with $3.1 trillion in cuts but the Obama plan was summarily rejected by Republicans because it raises taxes. Yesterday, Republicans threw their support behind a plan authored by Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), but Democrats claim it’s far too weak on raising revenue.
While the members of the committee are under a sort of loose “gag order” from committee chairs Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas, TX) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), murmurs are that the two sides (each with six votes) are far apart and nowhere near an agreement.
If the supercommittee does not reach an agreement by November 23, then automatic cuts will kick in starting January 2013. Over 10 years, automatic cuts would include:
- $492 billion (9%) cuts in Defense
- $322 billion (7%) cuts in non-defense discretionary spending
- $47 billion (4%) cuts in nonexempt mandatory spending, mostly agriculture programs
- $123 billion (2%) cuts in Medicare
The automatic trigger includes no cuts in Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, Federal retirement, and food stamp and other low-income programs. Together these make up $17 trillion estimated spending over the next 10 years, or about half of estimated Federal spending.
Even if the supercommittee miraculously finishes its work, the resulting plan must be passed by both houses of Congress with no amendments or modifications by December 23.
So, with one week to go:
- Will the super committee produce legislation?
- If yes, then will Congress pass it?
- If no, then will automatic cuts kick in, or will Congress try to circumvent the process they negotiated with the President?
- How will this affect the 2012 elections?
- Obama Urges Super Committee to Reach Agreement (usnews.com)
- Obama To Super Committee: Get It Done, But I’m Outta Here (businessinsider.com)
- Obama tells super committee members they can’t avoid the deep automatic cuts (dontmesswithtaxes.typepad.com)
- How’s that deficit going? — Supercommittee heads get a call (politico.com)
- With Deadline Looming Signs of Progress for the Budget Supercommittee (swampland.time.com)
- Boehner backs supercommittee tax hikes (cbsnews.com)
- Boehner Calls GOP Deficit Plan a ‘Fair Offer’ (foxnews.com)
- Deadline Looms As Debt Deal Appears Far Away (huffingtonpost.com)
As you may recall, I recently served on a jury. Now that the case is over, I’m free to talk about it, and since it involved a topic we had covered in the past here, I thought it worthwhile to share it with you.
Before I go into the details, though…
I was amazed at how much time I spent waiting around while the lawyers argued over the minutiae of what could and could not be presented to the jurors, and how it could be presented. I figure we spent about half of our time waiting for the lawyers to make procedural arguments, for which we could not be present, of course. It’s the one part of the whole experience that was downright unpleasant.
And now, I’ll present you with the most relevant presented evidence, as a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of the case. I’d like to know what you think. (more…)