The Budget Control Act of 2011, more commonly known as the debt ceiling deal, set up a Special Joint Committee made up of six senators and six members of the House of Representatives tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. The committee must reach agreement by Thanksgiving, after which Congress has until Christmas to enact or reject the proposal by a simple majority. No amendments will be allowed. If the committee does not come to an agreement that reduces the deficit over the next 10 years by at least $1.2 trillion, or if Congress does not pass it, a series of automatic spending cuts will be triggered. Those automatic cuts will come on top of the nearly $1 trillion in cuts already enacted as part of the Budget Control Act.
Typically, debates over deficit reduction revolve around questions of “how much in new revenue” versus “how much in spending cuts.” We saw this dynamic clearly over the course of the debt ceiling negotiations. But that is the wrong approach. What matters is not the ratio of revenue to spending cuts in any particular plan. What really matters is what the plan achieves for our country—for the strength of our economy, job creation, and our society.
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