The deed is done. The debt ceiling deal has been signed into law.
Next up: a super duper commission of 12 Members of Congress, evenly divided between Senate and House and Democrats and Republicans.
And each is going to be heavily armed in a very dangerous territory.
Either the Terrible Twelve – or is it the Terrific Twelve — come to an agreement on $1.2 – $1.5 trillion (or more) in deficit reductions or else.
Or else, an automatic reduction, called sequestration in budget parlance, of $1.2 trillion goes into effect, cutting equally domestic programs and the Pentagon.
Republicans have been unanimous that “No New Taxes” be included in the agreement just approved or in the next round of negotiations.
Democrats are telling Republicans, you may have won the last round on taxes, but not the next round.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) emphasized this point yesterday on the Senate floor:
“We have had too much talk the last few days, as early as this morning, Republican leaders in the Senate saying there will be no revenue. That is not going to happen; otherwise, the trigger is going to kick in.”
That trigger is the “or else.”
Either Republicans agree to new taxes – whether that is tax increases or elimination of tax loopholes or a combination – or deep budget cuts are a-coming, including in defense.
Yesterday, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) reaffirmed Reid’s point:
“Despite this bill’s imbalance in focusing solely on spending cuts, it does contain a mechanism that can force acceptance of what our Republican colleagues have refused to accept–the reality that revenue must be a part of real deficit reduction and that fair and effective deficit reduction efforts require shared sacrifice.”
Clearly Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) bitterly resents this choice that could lead to the military being “decimated.” Kyl noted yesterday:
“Worse, the cuts that would be triggered if the select committee recommendations fail were intentionally designed to be so large, so unimaginable, so irresponsible that Congress would be incented to approve the select committee’s recommendations. The word “Armageddon” was used to characterize this scheme.”
So Republicans are going to have to choose. Is it the sacred cow of wealthy taxpayers who are protected or the sacred cow of defense?
It is one “Armageddon” vs. another “Armageddon.”