The debt-ceiling deal in one flowchart
By Ezra Klein,
Senate Republicans are circulating a useful flow chart laying out the various paths the debt-ceiling deal could lead us down:
You can see a larger version here. They’re also circulating a summary of the plan that includes a section entitled “practical considerations.” This is, in effect, Mitch McConnell’s case for the legislation, and it’s notable for being both more accurate and more savvy/cynical than the case John Boehner made to his members. Here it is in full. I’ve italicized the more interesting parts:
• The maximum the debt ceiling can be raised is $2.4 trillion (if the committee has enacted at least $1.5 trillion in savings or if a BBA has been sent to the states). The minimum the debt ceiling can be raised is $2.1 trillion (if the joint committee fails to meet its target). In both circumstances, there would be dollar-for-dollar cuts coupled with the debt ceiling increase.
• The trigger does not allow for increased revenue. The trigger can only result in spending cuts through caps and sequesters, not tax increases.
• The sequester is designed to dig deep enough into programs cherished by both parties that the joint committee would have a significant incentive to succeed.
• Because of CBO scoring conventions, the committee would not be able to achieve deficit reduction through individual rate increases.
• If the committee fails, then the total debt limit increase is capped at $2.1 trillion, which raises the prospect of having to raise it again before the election (depending on the health of the economy).
• As a practical matter, if the full amount of the sequester were to be triggered, it would force a debate on what spending cuts could replace amounts being proposed to be sequestered. This debate would occur annually for the next nine years and keep the focus on the issue of spending well past the next election.