November 17, 2011 1 Comment
The deadline is not next week. The deadline is actually 2013 when the cuts are actually scheduled to take place. Now, if somehow Congress was locked in for 2013 by what happens– or more likely fails to happen– next week, that would be one thing. But they’re not. Sure it makes for some nice drama for journalists– complete with a countdown clock in the Post homepage– but it’s pretty artificial drama. If there’s no deal, Congress (and President Obama) have until 2013 to come up with something to prevent these cuts from happening. Not surprisingly, Republicans will likely have the upper hand. Yglesias nicely sums up the actual state of affairs:
The strange thing about the “super committee” process is that it’s been clear from the beginning that the Democrats will end up surrendering one way or the other. That’s because of the way the “trigger” has been structured. The automatic cuts are supposed to be evenly divided between domestic programs that Democrats want to protect and defense programs that Republicans want to protect, but Democrats also favor protecting those defense programs. Almost from the beginning you’ve heard Leon Panetta and others deploring the terrors of the trigger. That means Democrats have merely re-created the original debt ceiling problem for themselves. They don’t want to agree to an all-cuts deficit reduction, but they really don’t want to experience the alternative.
Republicans, by contrast, have no problem with the defense trigger. As Dave Weigel writes, super committee failure merely means “21 [Democratic] senators are vulnerable to truth-remixing Crossroads GPS ads about how they literally pried guns out of the hands of soldiers.”The two interesting questions are as follows. One is whether Democrats will surrender duringthe super committee negotiations or wait until the super committee deadlocks and then surrender on separate legislation to reverse the defense cuts. The second is whether in the latter scenario, Democrats will get any of the non-security trigger cuts rolled back alongside the defense ones.
No matter what happens, I can guarantee you that we’re not going to see defense spending cut in half. Democrats can talk all they want about the horror of automatic cuts to the CDC, FBI, NIH, etc., but Republicans have never really shown much interest in a functioning domestic government beyond the Defense Department and law enforcement. And I’m sure they’d be willing to let some criminals have it easy before they raised taxes $1.