Government Bytes


Is Congress Preparing to Soften the Debt Deal Trigger?

by Brandon Greife / /

If you’ve paid attention to Washington long enough, you’velikely learned you can never stop paying attention. Let down your guard, evenfor a split second, and Congress is sure to find some way to avoid the hard choicesrequired to reduce our debt.

The bipartisan deal to raise the debt limit was written tobe foolproof. If the deficit “supercommittee” could not agree with $1.2trillion in cuts, the authors of the deal built in a trigger that would makeautomatic cuts to Medicare and defense spending. The idea was to make the cutsso politically toxic as to force the supercommittee to act.

Well, they were half right. The cuts are toxic; but ratherthan forcing the supercommittee’s hand, they’re encouraging some lawmakers to tryand void the trigger altogether.


Lawmakers from both parties have warned what a disaster theautomatic spending cuts would be if the deficit-slashing supercommittee failsto reach a deal in just under three weeks.

But the reality is that the so-called trigger might not carry thelive round everyone fears.

A growing number of lawmakers are already talking about reversingthe automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs that would go intoeffect if the supercommittee doesn’t find at least $1.2 trillion in deficitcuts by Nov. 23.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) confirmedThursday that they’re working on “alternative” legislation that would scaleback the size of cuts that can be made to the Pentagon. On the other side ofthe political spectrum, liberals are talking about rolling back automatic cutsto domestic programs.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “the price of freedom is eternalvigilance.” So keep your eyes peeled, your ear to the ground, and your fingerin the wind, because Washington needs to know that we’re watching, and we won’taccept anything less than the already modest deficit reductions that werepromised.