Previously, we've voiced a number of concerns about sequestration, including that it is too abrupt, too mindless, too focused on the discretionary budget, and does nothing to improve the long term. What we've failed to mention, however, is that the sequestration also provides far less deficit reduction than what the Super Committee it was meant to back up was charged with saving.
We talked yesterday about the importance of keeping the trigger, or the automatic sequester of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, in place in order to help bring both sides of the aisle back to the negotiating table to enact smart and forward-looking reforms to the budget.
When Congress raised the debt ceiling in last August’s Budget Control Act (BCA), it mandated at least $1.2 trillion in further savings by 2021, from either Plan A, the bipartisan Super Committee, or Plan B, automatic cuts in spending -- also known as a sequester. The sequester would have automatically been turned off if a plan from the Super Committee to save at least $1.2 trillion were enacted.
However, with a Super Committee failure expected to be official very shortly, it is important that Congress leave Plan B in place rather than overriding it for three main reasons:
As we said earlier this week, the Super Committee needs to be finding ways to negotiate its way up to larger savings, not working to push savings down to find the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, the trend seems to be continuing. According to recent reports, Super Committee members have been working on a possible package of between $500 billion and $1 trillion in savings.
Today, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) called for a "Sense of the Senate" resolution pushing for Congress to "Go Big" on deficit reduction using the framework of the Simpson-Bowles proposal. The resolution is a non-binding agreement that a "Go Big" approach needs to be taken towards deficit reduction.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and many others have called on the Super Committee to find two or three times its mandated $1.5 trillion in budget savings. If the Super Committee is unable to agree on all the details before its November 23 deadline around the corner, we hope it will set the stage for continued efforts early next year to "Go Big" in order to keep the momentum going and put serious reforms in place.
With the deadline for the Super Committee to come to an agreement nearly here, the Moment of Truth Project, a project of CRFB, has released two new policy papers diving deeper into the Fiscal Commission's recommendations on how to reform federal retirement programs and Medicare cost-sharing rules. These areas of the budget can be a critical element in forging a bipartisan deal that requires shared sacrifice from everyone.
A group of legislators today staged a rare bipartisan, bicameral show of strength to support the Super Committee and encourage it to “Go Big.” At a Capitol Hill press conference, dozens of senators and representatives from each party united to promote a comprehensive solution now.
We have the greatest chance we’ve seen in a generation to strike a bold agreement that will move us forward on a sustainable fiscal path and spur economic recovery.” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Today at 10:30 am ET, Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and the Senate will be holding a press conference pushing Go Big in a last-minute call for the Super Committee to exceed their $1.2 trillion mandate. It could not come at a more opportune time as the Super Committee has entered its final week of deliberations, before the Monday night deadline to hand over proposals to the CBO for scoring.
You might think we're about to talk about Social Security reform or how to reform the Sustainable Growth Rate. But what we're actually talking about here is the need for Super Committee members to not be thinking of ways to reduce the overall savings to get a deal, but ways to increase the savings to make the chances of a deal more likely.
With two rounds of deficit reduction offers coming from both sides on the Super Committee, one disappointing trend has emerged: claw-back.