In light of Congressional Republicans’ abandonment of a key part of the debt limit agreement, two senior administration officials briefing reporters at the White House Monday said automatic, across the board cuts to defense programs will happen as scheduled unless Republicans relent on their refusal to raise revenues.
The officials conducted the briefing under the condition that they not be quoted directly, but their position was unambiguous — the White House will not support any effort to swap out scheduled cuts to defense programs (and other automatic cuts) unless Congress passes a balanced package of deficit reducing legislation of equal or greater measure. That means new tax revenue from wealthy Americans and corporate interests, which Republicans have routinely refused to consider.
This doesn’t constitute a change in the White House’s position. But the renewed declaration is significant given a growing push among GOP members and their leaders for annulling those cuts.
The debt limit deal included an enforcement mechanism — $1.2 trillion in automatic, across the board cuts (half taken from defense) in the event that a powerful, bipartisan committee failed to reduce the deficit by the same amount over 10 years. That panel failed in November, and now Republicans want to nix the portion of the enforcement mechanism that was designed to make them negotiate a balanced deficit reduction plan, including new tax revenues, in good faith with Democrats.
It’s shaping up to be a defining fight on Capitol Hill in the months leading up to the election.
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.