News from DC: Super-Committee Fails, Now What?

Bill Daley is the Federal Issues Policy Director at The Alliance for a Just Society.

On November 21st, the co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee of Deficit Reduction, aka the “Super Committee”,  issued this statement: “After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.” What does failure mean? What happens next?  

Here are four Post-Super-Committee developments we’ll be watching closely:

1. Protecting Defense from automatic triggers. Because the Super-Committee failed, there are automatic budget reduction triggers that affect both Defense and domestic spending equally in 2013. Both corporate and political forces are gathering in an effort to prevent this level of cuts to the Defense Department. Supporters of the safety net and protection of low-income programs will have to be prepared to respond.

2. Automatically expiring tax cuts.  Both the Bush Era tax cuts and the Obama payroll tax cut are scheduled to expire. This provokes an automatic fight over taxes. Unfortunately the debate is only partially focused on taxation of the wealthy, untaxed corporations, and financial speculation. Progressive groups need to continue the effort to restore some balance to the way we raise revenues.

3. Balanced budget constitutional amendment.  Putting fiscal handcuffs into our Constitution to prevent a clear majority from raising revenues is a bad idea that just won’t go away.  Before Thanksgiving, a version of the Amendment was defeated in the House. Next week the Senate will vote on two different versions. The one to worry most over is a version sponsored by Senators Udall (CO), Baucus, Manchin (WV), McCaskill (AR), Nelson (FL), and Nelson (NE). This one exempts Social Security and does not contain minority control over raising revenues.

4. Pressure on Medicaid and health care. Continuing to press against cuts to Medicaid and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is critically important. The Super-Committee did not agree but they looked at cutting health care funding. These ideas are not going to go away. They will resurface over the next year as the debate and gridlock continue on into the 2012 election.


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