Back during the debt ceiling fiasco that the Tea Party Republicans manufactured, an agreement was reached in the Budget Control Act of 2011 to create a super committee to organize a deal to get our national debt under control. If an agreement wasn’t reached by Monday, November 21st that totaled $1.2 trillion of spending cuts or new revenue, then there would be automatic, across the board, deep cuts that would take effect on Wednesday, November 23rd. These cuts automatic cuts would be split in half between defense and non defense spending, and would total the $1.2 trillion that the super committee was supposed to come up with.
Well folks, it’s the night of November 20th, and we still don’t have an agreement. In fact, the members of this super committee seem to have already started blaming each other for the group’s failure to reach an agreement. Republicans stone walling anything that would involve raising taxes on the wealthiest of Americans, and therefor road blocking any agreement, is no surprise to any reader on this web site. Rather than harping on another one of their failures aimed solely at protecting their wealthy constituents while at the same time preventing any progress in hopes of taking out the Obama Administration, let’s take a look at what these automatic cuts entail for the rest of us.
1. $600 billion dollars will be cut from the defense budget.
2. Discretionary spending will take on the majority of the remaining $600 billion worth of cuts because Social Security and Medicaid are exempt from these automatic cuts. There is also a limit on cuts that can be applied to Medicare.
3. In addition to the cuts, there are no provisions for new revenues, so all of the deficit reduction will come strictly from spending cuts.
With these 3 points in mind, it looks like a fair deal at first. That is, until you take into account that non defense discretionary spending only accounts for 18% of total U.S. government spending, yet has to take on half of the deficit reduction burden. While it is a small chunk, it covers a lot of stuff that is important to every day Americans. Education, low-income programs, veterans benefits, research and development, transportation, law enforcement, and infrastructure construction are all examples of programs that are funded in non discretionary spending that will have to eat these cuts. Mathematically, it is impossible to wall off any of these areas from cuts as it would leave little else to cut, so all will suffer, and suffer heavily. If the super committee fails to reach an agreement within the next 24 hours, then this small chunk of our budget will face harsh austerity measures that will set the U.S. back across the board for years to come in areas we need to be funding more rather than cutting back.
While it might seem like another Monday, it could be one of the most important days in recent history for a lot of regular Americans.