By Macon Phillips
Tonight, President Obama spoke in support of a bipartisan deal to reduce the nation's deficit and avoid default. It extends the debt limit to 2013, removing the cloud of uncertainty over our economy and ensuring that no one will be able to use the threat of default now or in only a few months for political gain. The bipartisan compromise assures that the United States meets its obligations – including monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses.
In order to receive the support from both parties -- as the President has consistently stressed -- the agreement has a few important elements:
•A down payment on deficit reduction with historic long-term spending restraint: Nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts -- done in a way to not harm the economic recovery, are balanced between domestic and pentagon spending, and protects critical initiatives like aid for college students;
•Expedited process for balanced deficit reduction: Puts in place a longer term process for additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction through a committee structure that will put everything on the table, including tax and entitlement reform. To prevent either side from using procedural tricks to prevent Congress from acting, the committee’s recommendations will receive fast track authority, which means they can’t be amended or filibustered.
•Sets the stage for a balanced package, including revenues: The American people and a growing number of Republicans agree that any deficit reduction package must be balanced and included revenue.
◦If the Committee does not succeed in meaningful balanced deficit reduction with revenue-raising tax reform on the most well-off by the end of 2012, the President can use his veto pen to raise nearly $1 trillion from the most well-off by vetoing any extension of the Bush high income tax cuts.
•A proven enforcement mechanism: An enforcement mechanism that will compel painful enough cuts to both sides that it will force congress to act. Enforcement mechanisms by their very nature should include measures that neither side supports so as to ensure action.
◦If Congress fails to act, beginning in 2013 there will be $1.2 trillion in spending cuts through 2021 – 50 percent from domestic spending and 50 percent from defense spending. Low income programs, including Medicaid, and Social Security and Medicare benefits would be exempted. Medicare cuts would be capped, limited to the provider side.
•Does not accept entitlement reforms without equal consideration of revenue raising tax reform, and ensures that low-income and middle class families are not forced to bear a disproportionate share of the burden from deficit reduction.