Las Vegas Sun

January 29, 2015

Currently: 62° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Reid’s deal last year on debt-ceiling cuts giving Republicans fits now

Last year, when Congress pushed the country to the brink of financial calamity over the federal debt ceiling, Sen. Harry Reid crafted a solution that rescued the nation from an emergency — but kicked a long-term fix further down the road.

It also netted him a prime negotiating position in ongoing budget talks as Republicans seek to reverse the defense cuts that they agreed to last year.

The periodic road to a federal budget runs through a typical series of obstacles: House Republicans appropriate bills without much Democratic support, and Senate Democrats kill off most budget proposals originating in the Republican Party.

But this year, the budget process isn’t just being slowed by the difficulties of brokering a deal (which won’t happen until after the election). It’s also being complicated by the need to determine whether each side is dealing with honest brokers.

The problem exists because of something called sequestration: $1.2 trillion in mandatory, across-the-board cuts in the 2013 budget that Congress imposed on itself last year as part of the debt ceiling deal.

A majority of both parties approved the cuts, half of which come down on defense programs, half on domestic programs, with very little being scraped from Medicare and none from Social Security.

In short, the automatic cuts tear more deeply into Republican priorities.

But now, Republicans are calling for a do-over — and pointing an accusing finger at Reid.

In this case, Reid isn’t just the Democrat in charge reminding Republicans they can’t renege on a deal. He’s also the mastermind of the scheme that led to this point — and it is playing out in his favor.

Indeed, much of the interparty frustration gripping the current budget process stems from last year’s deal that broke the deadlock over how to increase the country’s borrowing authority.

For months, congressional leaders trucked back and forth to the White House for wheel-spinning meetings, stuck because of an ingrained difference of political philosophy. Republicans wanted to balance increased borrowing authority with cuts in the budget, and Democrats wanted to strike a balance by raising tax revenue.

With the clock winding down on the government’s financial cushion, Reid proposed an idea: Form a super-committee of expert lawmakers and give them an extra few months to work out a deal with a lurking penalty — automatic cuts if they fail to reach an agreement.

The details of that sequester were the least publicly debated part of the bill that Congress passed as the hours ticked down on the government’s borrowing authority.

There’s little question however, that though crude, the sequestration was heavily weighted in Democrats’ favor. Defense Department cuts, which Republican leaders are trying to undo, have proven almost impossible to get past the GOP in regular negotiations and certainly not without a trade on Social Security and Medicare.

That has put Reid in the driver’s seat as congressional leaders returned to the White House last week to resume negotiations on the federal budget, the debt ceiling — which must be raised by the end of the year — and whether or not the sequester ought to be undone.

“Where is the president’s plan to replace these indiscriminate cuts to our military, which will devastate their ability to keep America secure?” House Speaker John Boehner demanded as he, Reid and minority leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Nancy Pelosi headed in for talks with President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

Answer from Reid? Show me the money.

“Sen. Reid made clear his view that absent a balanced agreement that pairs smart spending cuts with revenue measures asking millionaires to pay their fair share, the debt will be dealt with through the sequester,” Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson told reporters.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 15 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. No mention of the millions of dollars congress wants to spend for the military programs that the pentagon does not want

  2. Installing a missile system in Poland to protect them from Iran is another boondoggle from the Iraq war era where no-bid contracts funneled cash into the pockets of privateers. Iran isn't going to attack Poland because they would have to march their army through Europe to get there and that won't happen.

    The missile system is just another 'stimulus' plan to spread easy money to a few privileged circles. Poland should put up the cash themselves.

  3. Moral of the story : Don't mess with Harry !

  4. Can we STOP arguing about GOP versus RNC? Let's think about the nation and how to get out of this hole we're in. Stop spending on wars, on military bases in Europe, on student loans, on federal grants, on free health care for the able bodied, on endless support for illegal aliens and their kids. Let's get after employers of illegals and expel their anchor babies so we have a CHANCE to recover. You would forfeit any chance of a comfortable retirement, any chance of helping your kids and grand kids, so we can turn every third world population into "democrats" and nations into democracies? Get a clue. Afghanistan will not convert to democracy no matter how many trillions we waste there. No matter how many of our sons and daughters we maim and kill. Europe can't pay for their own defense?

  5. Correction @FernleyDem:

    The Republicans House and Senate, and the Republican Leadership, are so fixed on stopping President Obama on everything and anything the President proposes, even if they vote and go against interest they have supported in the past and have initiated, they have and will continue to hurt their party, hurt their supporters and hurt the country because of the blind obsession to a plan from day on of Barack Obama's Presidency to remove him from office. Sort of like bitting the hand that feeds you. In this case, the Republican are bitting and eating their own. Even their beloved Bill O'Reilly has publicly disowned the Republicans.

    The fact the Republican put Defense Budget cuts on the table as a bargaining tool shows they will do anything to try and stop this President. Again, sort of like a compulsive gambler taking whatever to make a bet, no matter what it is, just to make a bet. In the case of the Republicans, it is whatever it takes to stop this President. Remember the old saying, "beware of the hole you dig for me, for you will fall in it"

    When the book is written on this President, he will be remembered as one of the smartest president based on the organized opposition his is facing during one of the most diffcult times in America. Look for this President to win re-elect by 8 points or more---the calculations put it more at 11 to 12 points.

    Harry Reid is following strategy from the White House based on the emotional decisions from the opposition.

  6. That's true @Warrior,

    Four other budgets were also voted down, Paul Ryan's included. It is clear the White House didn't expect the budget to pass. This is part of the politics we are fed up with.

  7. Democrat or Republican, neither one is looking out for the American people, they are looking out for themselves and getting reelected. No budget passed in over three years, more college graduates unable to find work, more people on foodstamps, and all still we send money overseas to other countries. All of the people complaining about "rich people:, if we didn't have the rich people, most of us wouldn't have a job. People say to tax the "rich" more. Well, you are richer than the homeless person on the corner, are you willing to share your income with them because you have more than them. Maybe we should just put all of the money every has into a big pot and give everyone the same about. Would that make people happy and non-envious. All of the people complaining about people on foodstamps, should we just let them starve. Maybe all of us should remember regardless of party, we are still Americans first. And just maybe we should hold our politicians to a high standard and require them to do their jobs and not worry about their reelection. If as a family you have to live within your means and work from a budget, maybe we should as a country try the same thing. If an item is not necessary for our maintanence as a country, maybe we don't need it. Maybe we would not have to borrow so much money from other countries. Just a thought.

  8. This is actually pretty hilarious when you step back and think about this without always pursuing an agenda.

    From the commenters here on the far right who post all the time, you all seem to be blaming Senator Reid for diabolical designs...and it's stuff that Tea/Republicans agreed upon before. And also stuff that they didn't care about when there were Republican Party leadership before.

    But now, since they clearly don't act like a political party anymore, they conveniently fall back on the eternal protest movement method; absolutely no clue on how to solve anything.

    Because if they did, they perceive it as a win for the Democrats, President Obama and his entire administration. They are content right now to tank this entire economy. Not because they disagree, but because they are in all out war mode politically. The American people are pawns in their deadly game.

    Far right wingnuts really don't seem to like to honor to commitments at all. And in their constant need to point fingers, they try to blame Democrats..FOR STUFF THEY AGREED TO BEFORE!

    Really dumb, far righties. You seem to always want to paint yourselves into a corner. Then always blaming everyone else for your own actions.

    These are the exact reasons why the Tea/Republicans are going to be wiped out on November 6, 2012.

    People are tired of the endless games. Even stalwart Republicans and even the independents are jumping ship in droves, tired of the silliness of always proclaiming emphatically, "We are doing the will of the American people."

    Clearly, you're not.

    Keep it up, far righties, with this endgame crap. You are self-destructing. Because people out here are sick and tired of this constant debacle mode.

    Because it gets us absolutely nowhere on the road to economic recovery.

  9. Wait, I'm having trouble keeping up...

    There is a movement of people who want the government to cut its spending. The government is about to be forced to cut its spending. But now we don't want to have the government cut its spending because we don't like the person who engineered the cuts and we don't like the things that are being cut... even though that's where the government spends the most money.

    Oh wait, I think I get it now, cutting government spending isn't really what this movement wants. Sound about right?

  10. "Sound about right?"


  11. RefNV, whenever you spout numbers in the billions and trillions of dollars, you seem to have this nasty habit of all that started on the day President Obama became President of the United States of America.

    This appears to be the basis of your every argument that January 2009 is Year Zero and President Obama has wracked up huge debts due to ONLY his Presidency.

    But what you fail to convey is that trillions and trillions of dollars of debt was handed to him by the previous President due to unfunded wars, no tax revenue coming in, the horrid Bush tax cuts not only once, but twice and, on top of that a pharma deal that was also unpaid for.

    I will ask a question you won't answer, nor do you want to answer: How is President Obama to manage our economy when it was destroyed to begin with?

    It was like Bush ran out the door, threw the keys to the house to Obama and said, "Here you go. You take over." Then President Obama, all bright eyed and bushy tailed and eager to get going, appears and he immediately notices the paint is peeling, the roof is falling apart, the electrical wiring inside is ripped out, all the furniture is gone, floorboards are ripped up, carpeting is stained, toilets are chipped, no running water, the mortgage has been unpaid, and nobody has cleaned the place in years. And on top of that, two red headed step children are sitting on the floor looking around, clearly abandoned and lost.

    Your vision of fiscal history is really, really flawed and only self-serving to fit an agenda.

    But then again, that's what righties do. They rack up the debt, then when they get smacked out of power, they automatically blame the new guy for not paying it all off in two and half days.

    But what's even worse this time around is the fact that the Tea/Republicans are trying to chop him off at the knees to prevent economic recovery.

    They know what has to be done, and if they were in power, they would do it, but these idiots are only in political mode.

    The Tea/Republicans really think they have a winning formula to stick by in order to get back into power.

    It's not gonna work.

    The American people know deep in their hearts they are pawns in this game.

    And it's gonna backfire.

    It will blow up in your face, righties.

    This fiscal austerity crap is the hand of cards you constantly want dealt. The American people are calling your bluff and are going to end up contributing to your total disintegration.

    Enough. ENOUGH.

    Bring on November 6, 2012. I got my voting ballots already filled out and waiting. BRING IT ON.

  12. For over three years our good Senator Reid has not brought a budget to the floor of the Senate for debate, let alone a vote. The Constitution requires that this be done every year, but apparently the good Senator's oath to uphold the Constitution is somewhat flexible on that account.

    Without the budget process our government continues to function through continuing resolutions - and it's continuing the overgross, bloated spending of Obama's first year. Good Senator Reid knows very well that he wouldn't get enough support from his own party to sustain that sort of budget today, let alone from any opposition party.

    In the meantime our debt increases by $4 billion per day, day after day, with no end in sight until the election. One day interest rates will rise again and the debt burden will go up with it. Dramatically.

    Is the only person in Washington that truly looks out for the interests of the people Tom Coburn? It's not the senior Senator from Nevada.

  13. So let me get this straight, you just switched the discussion over to entitlement spending. And you are stating we are paying too much for entitlements such as Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, just to name a few.

    And in that same paragraph, you say we are not spending enough on the War on Terror?

    Again, there are a lot of things you are ignoring. The fact that this War on Terror, TO THIS DAY, is still not funded properly.

    Because of those infernal Former President Bush Jr. Tax Cuts For The Filthy Rich.

    RefNV wants everyone to hit the panic button on Social Security, which is guaranteed to be funded for years and years. And even when there is trouble on the horizon for it, it will STILL be able to pay out 75 percent. Social Security can easily be fixed. But not now. Why? Because a stupid political party called the Tea/Republicans refuses to sit down at a table and negotiate easy fixes for it.

    Other entitlements like Medicare spending can be fixed too, but yet again a stupid political party is more for being against something they were for before (the Affordable Care Act). If they worked to enact it, health costs would actually start to go down.

    Tea/Republicans just want to destroy. They simply could care less about taking care of people in America. Their motto is YOYO (Your On Your Own). You're gonna die. That's it. No other alternatives. In the process of destroying and reckless indifference, they are starving America. All so they can give it to the rich.

    Go ahead, RefNV, your turn. Because your conversation never ends. You'll switch and start talking about something else, but totally ignore the roots of the problem.

    People wonder why we are at political loggerheads. And they intend to make it sound like everyone should give in to Tea/Republican bully tactics all the time, not because they are right, BUT BECAUSE THEY ARE LOUD AND CONSTANT WITH THEIR STUPID PROPAGANDA.

    I got a voice and I'm using it to call this idiocy out.

    Impasse until November 6, 2012. We are simply going to crush this abomination called the Tea/Republican Party then. Mark my words....

  14. One problem, Harry The Hater has yet to allow the one and only Obama budget to come in for a vote. Can't have budget cuts unless you have a budget and Obama has yet to get a Budget to the floor in three years.

    Want to talk about violating agreements? How about violating the Constitution?? Harry!!

  15. Disgusting, the games they are playing with our economic survival. We must STOP SPENDING. Instead, Congress is playing games about what to cut when and in the short-term playing with "defense" increases so when they have to cut 10% across the board, "defense" won't be hurt. Any idea why we're protesting in Chicago? Foreign "leaders" decide how many Billions to Trillions Americans will keep paying in Afghanistan and everywhere else while Europeans leave us to mike up their tabs too. President Obama was sooo naive to take Generals advice and keep up in Iraq tooooo long, to get deeper into Afghanistan, to keep us in Afghanistan, and now they're planning an increased presence in Asia????