One year after an agreement for deep spending cuts ended the federal government’s bitter debt ceiling crisis, the legislation that consummated the deal is an orphan. Seems nobody wants to take responsibility as the time nears for the hatchet to fall on defense and domestic programs.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are accusing one another of proposing the cuts. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is blaming President Barack Obama, who he says was absent during the debate. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) now says it was the wrong vote. And so it goes, although the current naysayers voted for the bill that won overwhelming approval in both the House and Senate.
There’s a bad case of buyer’s remorse going around, and they all need to get over it.
Republicans precipitated last summer’s crisis. They blocked congressional action to raise the national debt limit and demanded spending cuts worth $1.2 trillion over 10 years, as a condition for ending the standoff.
The White House negotiated a deal with Republican leaders that created a supercommittee to identify the spending cuts and if it failed — as it did — to trigger automatic cuts with about half coming from defense spending. As the clock ticks toward January, when the first $109 billion in cuts are slated to hit, many in Congress are desperately trying to walk away from the deal.
Ginning up a phony crisis is no way to do the public’s business. But some good may yet come of it, if the desire to avoid defense cuts builds pressure for a broader deal on spending, deficits and the expiring Bush tax cuts that includes reforming the federal income tax code.
If that happens, then the juice will have been worth the squeeze.
Pictured above: Speaker of the House John Boehner holds his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol.