Sunday, September 25, 2011

Please, Obama: stop talking like a hostage

A worrying signal in The President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit reduction, regarding the triggers in the deficit reduction deal, aka the Budget Control Act (BCA):
With approximately $1trillion in deficit reduction achieved over the next decade through the use of discretionary spending caps, it took a substantial step toward bringing down our deficit.Yet, with discretionary spending projected to reach historically low levels, we need to look at other parts of the budget for savings so that we pursue deficit reduction in a balanced way.This is not only critical to future economic growth, but if the Committee fails to achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction, then a sequester would be triggered that could have devastating consequences for both defense and non-defense programs (pg. 2, pdf pg. 12).
Here we are with Obama once again warning about "devastating consequences" if a deal is not struck, this time by the Supercommittee. That worked out great the last time, didn't it? When faced with economic disaster if they don't back off a maximalist position, Republicans always back off, right?
Obama has to be willing to let the BCA triggers go off if Republicans won't agree to any tax increases in the supercommittee negotiations. If not  -- if, for example,  Obama won't countenance the $600 billion in alleged defense cuts mandated by the triggers --  the Democrats will be driven to negotiate another $1.5 trillion in cuts in discretionary spending, since Obama has promised to veto any agreement that cuts Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security without raising taxes.  He has left open a window to a particular kind of capitulation -- no cuts to entitlements, but also no revenue hikes.  That is worrisome.

Just this once, couldn't we leave it to the GOP to warn of "devastating consequences" if negotiations fail?  I suspect that more than a few of them might come under a wee bit of pressure if the automatic defense cuts loom as a likely outcome.

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