‘Line’ Items: Go (Big) Time Edition

Time is Short and We Need to Go Long – The clock is ticking on the Super Committee as its November 23 deadline is now just a week and a half away. It’s now or never for the panel. By looking across the Atlantic, we can see what happens when governments cannot get their act together to address national debt. Some contend that the only hope at this point is a small, face-saving deal. But CRFB has made the case that a ‘Go Big’ approach has a better chance of success. While some argue there is not enough time for such a deal, the Super Committee doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Lots of work has already been done by the Bowles-Simpson Commission, the Domenici-Rivlin Task Force, and the Gang of Six.

Will the Super Committee Go for It or Go Home? – For all the talk about gridlock among the group, there has been some movement in the past week. Democrats on the panel offered some concessions on entitlements and Republicans offered some on taxes. CRFB applauded the movement in a statement. Meanwhile, some are looking for an escape hatch in case a big deal cannot be reached in time. Super Committee Co- chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) said on Sunday that the group could use a “two-step process” where specific changes to the tax code would be delegated to the tax–writing committees in Congress. And Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) suggested that Congress vote on either the Gang of Six proposal or the Bowles-Simpson plan if the Super Committee fails to come up with a deal. President Obama raised the stakes by saying he would not support any attempt to roll back the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts that would be triggered if the Super Committee fails. CRFB warns that eliminating the sequester would be irresponsible. Want your voice heard? See our new Citizen’s Resource Page for ideas to get engaged, such as signing a petition.

Go Big Not Going Away – Last week New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his support behind a comprehensive ‘Go Big’ approach that puts everything on the table and goes beyond the mandate of the Super Committee to find $1.2 -$1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade. This Tuesday, members of the House and Senate who support a ‘Go Big’ approach will urge the Super Committee on at a Capitol Hill press conference. One hundred members of the House and 45 senators publicly support going big now.

Appropriations Also Going Down to the Wire – Amid all the talk of the Super Committee deadline, another important budget date looms even closer. The continuing resolution funding the federal government expires on Friday. A new stopgap measure is expected to be included in the minibus combining FY 2012 spending bills for Agriculture, Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce-Justice-Science that House-Senate negotiators are expected to complete this week. A second minibus rolling up the Financial Services, Energy-Water, and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills may be voted on by the Senate this week as well.

House Goes Ahead with Balanced Budget Amendment Vote – The House will vote on a balanced budget amendment this week. The Budget Control Act requires both chambers to vote on a BBA by the end of the year. House leaders reportedly have decided to vote on a “clean” BBA that simply requires that expenditures not exceed revenues, as opposed to other versions that would also cap federal spending at a certain level of GDP and require a super majority in Congress to raise taxes. No version is likely to get the 2/3 majority vote in both houses of Congress and the 3/4 of the states needed to ratify a constitutional amendment. See here for budget process reform ideas that do not require an amendment to the Constitution.

Key Upcoming Dates (all times ET)

November 15

  • Senate Budget Committee hearing on "Economic Effects of Fiscal Policy Choices" at 10 am.
  • GOP presidential debate in Washington, DC sponsored by CNN, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute at 8 pm.

November 18

  • Continuing resolution (CR) currently funding federal government operations expires.

November 23

  • The Super Committee is required to vote on a report and legislative language recommending deficit reduction policies by this date.

December 1

  • GOP presidential debate in Arizona sponsored by CNN at 8 pm.

December 2

  • The Super Committee report and legislative language must be transmitted to the President and Congressional leaders by this date.

December 9

  • Any Congressional committee that gets a referral of the Super Committee bill must report the bill out with any recommendation, but no amendments, by this date.

December 10

  • GOP presidential debate in Des Moines, IA sponsored by ABC News at 9 pm.

December 15

  • GOP presidential debate in Sioux City, IA sponsored by Fox News at 9 pm.

December 19

  • GOP presidential debate in Johnston, IA sponsored by PBS NewsHour, Google and YouTube at 4 pm.

December 23

  • Congress must vote on the bill recommended by the Super Committee by this date. No amendments are allowed.

December 31

  • Both houses of Congress must vote on a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as required by the Budget Control Act.

January 3, 2012

  • Iowa Caucuses.

January 10, 2012

  • New Hampshire Primary.

January 21, 2012

  • South Carolina Primary.

January 31, 2012

  • Florida Primary.