Democratic and Republican leaders came to an agreement on raising the debt limit, looking to forestall the government from going into default on Tuesday. But first both sides have to sell the agreement to their Congressmen and to their base. Basically, the Republicans gave in to the Democrats’ desire for a two year provision, while Democrats gave in to the Republican’s desire for spending cuts without tax increases. Here are some more details from the Associated Press story:
Details apparently included in the agreement provide that the federal debt limit would rise in two stages by at least $2.2 trillion, enough to tide the Treasury over until after the 2012 elections.
Big cuts in government spending would be phased in over a decade. Thousands of programs – the Park Service, Labor Department and housing among them – could be trimmed to levels last seen years ago.
No Social Security or Medicare benefits would be cut, but the programs could be scoured for other savings. Taxes would be unlikely to rise.
Without legislation in place by Tuesday, the Treasury will not be able to pay all its bills, raising the threat of a default that administration officials say could inflict catastrophic damage on the economy.
If approved, though, a compromise would presumably preserve America’s sterling credit rating, reassure investors in financial markets across the globe and possibly reverse the losses that spread across Wall Street in recent days as the threat of a default grew.
Officials familiar with the negotiations said that McConnell had been in frequent contact with Vice President Joe Biden, who has played an influential role across months of negotiations.
In the first stage under the agreement, the nation’s debt limit would rise immediately by nearly $1 trillion and spending would be cut by a slightly larger amount over a decade.
That would be followed by creation of the new congressional committee that would have until the end of November to recommend $1.8 trillion or more in deficit cuts, targeting benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, or overhauling the tax code. Those deficit cuts would allow a second increase in the debt limit.
If the committee failed to reach its $1.8 trillion target, or Congress failed to approve its recommendations by the end of 2011, lawmakers would then have to vote on a proposed constitutional balanced-budget amendment.
If that failed to pass, automatic spending cuts totaling $1.2 trillion would automatically take effect, and the debt limit would rise by an identical amount.
Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps would be exempt from the automatic cuts, but payments to doctors, nursing homes and other Medicare providers could be trimmed, as could subsidies to insurance companies that offer an alternative to government-run Medicare.
Both tea party Republicans and leftist Democrats are howling, for different reasons. Do you think this deal should be approved? Who do you think got the better of the negotiations?