So What's in the Debt Deal?

$1T in cuts now with more later—and a 'trigger' to ensure a second deal
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2011 10:51 AM CDT
So What's in the Debt Deal? Ezra Klein Explains
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks at a news conference as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens.   (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

No revenues, big budget cuts—what exactly is in the debt-ceiling deal? Ezra Klein sums it up in the Washington Post: $1 trillion in immediate cuts with at least $1.5 trillion more to come; a vote on a balanced budget amendment; and an immediate $900 billion increase to the debt ceiling, with a $1.2 trillion or $1.5 trillion future hike. What determines the size of debt-ceiling increase No. 2? The "trigger." Klein explains: If Congress can't pass at least $1.5 billion in deficit reduction in round two, the trigger goes off and automatically cuts $1.2 trillion over a decade.

Half of those cuts would be to the Pentagon, which is already seeing its defense budget slashed by $350 billion in the initial round of cuts. "If the trigger 'works,' of course, it’s never used," writes Klein. And the trigger cuts are supposed to be so devastating that Congress will be compelled to make a deal. "But a deal means taxes, or at least is supposed to. And John Boehner is already promising that taxes are off the table." The deal boils down to "lowest-common denominator lawmaking," writes Klein. "There are no taxes. No entitlement cuts. No stimulus. No infrastructure." (More Congress stories.)

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