Remember the fight over raising the debt ceiling last summer?
Democrats and Republicans in Congress feuded over whether and how to raise a self-imposed debt limit as the clock ticked toward an Aug. 2 deadline, which is the day the Treasury Department projected the country would run out of money to pay its bills.
At issue were details of a long-term solution to address regular deficits and the ever-greater accumulation of national debt.
Eventually the leadership of House and Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a deal that would raise the debt ceiling with the promise that the debt must eventually be addressed. There were several aspects of the deal: A bipartisan “super-committee” tasked to cut at least $1.5 trillion in spending over the next decade; a promised vote on Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s balanced budget amendment; and the looming threat of an automatic $1.2 trillion in 2013 if Congress failed to pass a deficit reduction bill.
The super-committee failed. The balanced budget was defeated by the Senate. And now, nearly two-thirds of the way through 2012, Congress still hasn’t passed any substantial legislation to address the deficit and the automatic cuts are looming.
So what’s happened in the political conversation?
Predictably, the scheduled cuts have become a political talking point in the 2012 elections. That’s all the more so here in Virginia, where the defense industry is a huge economic driver.
Last night, Gen. Wesley Clark and two other retired military officials supporting incumbent President Barack Obama pinned the blame on House Republicans for the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of scheduled cuts to national defense.
Later today, U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, are holding a conference call on what they’re calling “Obama’s defense cuts.”
So what do you think, readers? Is one or the other side to blame on this? Did these scheduled cuts come about because the two sides can’t agree — or because they each agreed to compromise enough to cut this deal?
– Mason Adams