Sunday, July 31, 2011
Elements in the Debt Ceiling Agreement
Here is an outline of the debt ceiling agreement announced by President Obama tonight.
A White House fact sheet distributed to reporters shortly after the president spoke laid down the specific elements of Sunday night's deal to raise the debt ceiling:
· The president will be authorized to increase the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion, eliminating the need for another increase until 2013.
· The first tranche of cuts will come in at nearly $1 trillion. That includes savings of $350 billion from the Base Defense Budget, which will be trimmed based off a review of overall U.S. national security policy.
· A bipartisan committee with enhanced procedural authority will be responsible for pinpointing $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction from both entitlements and tax reform, as well as other spending programs.
· The committee will have to report out legislation by November 23, 2011.
· Congress will be required to vote on Committee recommendations by December 23, 2011.
· The trigger mechanism -- should the committee's recommendations not be acted upon -- will be mandatory spending cuts. Those cuts, which will begin in January 2013, will be split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries and "low-income programs" would be exempted from those cuts.
The fact sheet goes on to note that there is another enforcement mechanism that the president possesses.
"The Bush tax cuts expire as of 1/1/2013, the same date that the spending sequester [the trigger mechanism] would go into effect," the fact sheet reads. "These two events together will force balanced deficit reduction. Absent a balanced deal, it would enable the President to use his veto pen to ensure nearly $1 trillion in additional deficit reduction by not extending the high-income tax cuts."
-- Sam Stein, The Huffington Post