One of the last sticking points in the debt limit fight comes down to how to guarantee future deficit reduction. Democrats and Republicans have agreed broadly that the question should fall to a new Super Committee, but that if Congress does not pass yet another fiscal package in the coming months, spending should be cut across the board, including from the military and Medicare.
In other words, no automatic tax increases — nothing to really focus Republican minds on compromising with Democrats on deficit reduction.
But they’ve yet to sign off on this plan because they fear the enforcement mechanism contains too many defense cuts.
This, of course, is the entire point of the enforcement mechanism — to make it so onerous to all parties that they make sure not to pull the trigger on it. It’s a key tell that Republicans are making their last stand here. They want to weaken the side of the enforcement mechanism that puts them and their interests in an uncomfortable spot. That way, they set things up so that if they oppose future deficit legislation (i.e. because it contains tax increases) they can walk away and take across the board cuts that they’re comfortable with.
That’s where we are at the moment.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.