Friday, July 15, 2011

Confused about the debt ceiling debate? A cheat sheet

CNN has posted and excellent “cheat sheet” on the debt ceiling debate that clarifies what is being debated and some of the options.

For example, here is the CNN cheat sheet on the proposed McConnell fallback option if no agreement is reached on spending cuts and the additions he is discussing with Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, proposes a shift in how government raises debt ceilings, resting the decision and power more with the White House. McConnell's plan would allow the debt ceiling to go up if a) the president requests a specific increase, b) the president submits proposed budget cuts in an amount greater than the debt ceiling increase and c) if two-thirds of Congress does not vote against it (if one-third supports the debt ceiling increase).

The mechanisms for that plan are complex, but just believe us that those are the bottom lines.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, is working with McConnell to add more components to this plan.

The two leaders are considering an attachment of $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. And they are talking about a commission or group that would propose spending cuts and possibly wider reform. This plan is fluid, but right now the idea is to create something similar to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, guaranteeing the commission's recommendation a straight up-or-down vote in each chamber of Congress. That group could speed up the process to cut spending.

Supporters: This "fallback" could save the U.S. from hitting an unprecedented financial wall. It also takes the politics out of debt ceiling debates.

Opponents: The McConnell plan requires no spending cuts or change in fiscal policy. It demands only proposals, which Congress may or may not pass. Even if the McConnell/Reid spending cuts are included, this idea makes few or no difficult fiscal decisions.

Check it out and arm yourself for discussions with friends this weekend.  You are going to spend the weekend talking about the debt crisis aren’t you?  Hey, what else do you have to do.

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