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  • Even the Fakery is Fake: Joint Committee is Not Required to Recommend $1.5 Trillion in Deficit Reduction

    The “Budget Control Act of 2011″ (BCA) contains provisions for a joint committee of Congress, whose supposed job it is to make recommendations to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion.  But the legislation does not require the joint committee to do that job.  It is merely a “goal” of the joint committee to recommend at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, but even if the committee fails to do so, the Congress will give expedited consideration anyway to whatever is in the joint committee bill.  The Congressional Budget Office letter of August 1, 2011 scoring the legislation noted that the joint committee is merely “charged with the goal of reducing the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion between 2012 and 2021.”

    We know that proposing $1.5 trillion is the intended job of the joint committee, because a slide from Speaker Boehner’s office (marked “Updated: July 31, 10:35 pm EST”) says the agreed-on framework “creates a 12-member Joint Committee required to report legislation by November 23, 2011 that would produce a proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.5T over 10 years.”

    But sometime between the Speaker’s slide at 10:35 p.m. and the House Legislative Counsel’s draft of the “Budget Control Act of 2011″ (marked “August 1, 2011 (12:04 p.m.)” and posted on the House Rules Committee Website) somebody made the decision that the joint committee does not actually need to propose $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.  Because the actual legislation does not require the joint committee bill to recommend $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction for the bill to get expedited consideration in Congress.

    To be sure, section 401(b)(2) of the BCA says “[t]he goal of the joint committee shall be to reduce the deficit by at least $1,500,000,000,000 over the period of fiscal years 2012 to 2021.”  But the provisions with respect to the joint committee that matter — the provisions giving the joint committee recommendations expedited consideration in the two Houses of Congress — are not tied to that goal.  Section 401(a)(2) defines “joint committee bill” to mean “a bill consisting of the proposed legislative language of the joint committee recommended under subsection (b)(3)(B) and introduced under section 402(a).”  Neither section 401(b)(3)(B) nor section 402(a) incorporates the statutory goal of a least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, so a bill recommended by the joint committee and introduced under the legislation can qualify as a “joint committee bill,”  which gets expedited consideration in the House and the Senate, even if the joint committee bill does not recommend $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction.

    If conservatives want the benefit of the bargain that the congressional leaders say they struck, they should at least seek an amendment to section 401(b)(3)(B)(i) to insert before the semicolon “, and meets the goal set forth in paragraph 401(b)(2)”.  The BCA is bad legislation, but it is even worse than it appears.

    The joint committee process is yet another promise by Congress that it will get spending under control — just not now, but rather some time in the future, always in the future.  To avoid a debt ceiling crisis, the leaders of Congress have agreed to pretend that the joint committee process will yield further deficit reduction of at least $1.5 trillion.  But they do not even do a good job of pretending.  Their legislation gives the joint committee bill expedited consideration in Congress whether it recommends $1.5 trillion in cuts or not.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    29 Responses to Even the Fakery is Fake: Joint Committee is Not Required to Recommend $1.5 Trillion in Deficit Reduction

    1. Mike says:

      Do we the taxpayers of the USA have any control at all over our Congress, is it all smoke and mirrors, we can' t believe anyone who works for the government, lost jobs in the private sector, virtually none in the government sectors and out of control spending. Term limitations, it looks like we need to make our own, vote them all out, who in their right mind continues to add more and more debt without any consideration for paying the bill. We must force congress to only spend what we can pay for, if it takes cuts accross the board so be it.

      • Marcus says:

        I'm afraid the only solution is going to be a massive tax revolt with millions a people NOT paying their taxes. Who's in?

        • Mike, Wichita Falls says:

          It's kind of like speeding; the police can't pull over anyone if everyone is exceeding the limit. Seriously, no matter how burdensome our laws, they must be obeyed. However, at least employees can delay payment of taxes by changing deductions on their W4.

          • Bobbie says:

            someone also recently mentioned to cancel amenities like cable and paper services etc, that bring in tax revenue…
            …just temporarily until government disciplines themselves!!

    2. Eric from Chicago says:

      I appreciate the analysis of the language, but I'm not sure how it follows that this new joint committee will necessarily take that loophole and not meet its intended goal – couldn't we have some faith that they might instead actually achieve the goal?

      • Steve says:

        LOL. I enjoy the comic relief with all the stress from this debate. Bus seriously…… I realize that this is a VERY modest goal ($1.5T over 10 YEARS when our current deficit is over $14T and growing by at least another $2T with this deal), but Eric, when have you seen a politician, regardless of their party affiliation, achieve such a modest goal as this within the last 20 years? I have very little faith because the people in Washington just don't get it.

    3. Bradley says:

      <a href="http://www.goooh.com” target=”_blank”>www.goooh.com

    4. Pingback: More Trouble for Debt Deal: Joint Committee is Not Required to Recommend $1.5 Trillion in Deficit Reduction | NetRight Daily

    5. Beoth says:

      And if the Committee falls short sequestration makes up the difference. There's no problem there, it gives the committee maximum flexibility.

      • Guest says:

        If you read the fine print it requires someone to activate the sequestration. If you think BO will order that I have a bridge for sale. Remember, the word honest and politician don't fit in the same sentence.

    6. Mark says:

      1.5 trillion in reductions OVER 10 YEARS! It is a reduction in what they would have spent on the normal course of raising spending so actually increases spending. This is a complete slap in the face. These guys are not serious about saving our country – only saving their power (both sides)!

    7. aedley says:

      This is just one more joke that Washington politicians have pulled on the American people. They have no idea what a budget means or how to live within your means. The only answer is to get a balanced budget amendment passed and force them to do their job. Other wise we are all going to be in soup lines. Remember this in 2012, YOU can fire everyone of them.

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    10. freeoffear says:

      Now we tax payers only know what some few interviewed congress members have to say. We are past the point of trusting anyone in DC. The Supreme Court is sitting on their hands waiting to see if America stands or falls, how pitiful that they have not done their JOB! If they want to save our country, take the case to get Obama out now along with all that can be undone, like Obamacare. Man O Man, have we woke up sence Nov. 2009. The elections of 2012 WILL change this country for ever if we make it. Supreme Court, we are as upset with you as Obama!

    11. Lee says:

      Potential good news. We might escape the defense/national security cuts both the "anti-war' liberal/Left and the Teabrainer conservative/Right have been discussing. The real world currency is not dollars or gold. It's "lead"! And we can't let the peaceniks and/or the portfolio watchers stand in the way of having as much of that on our side as possible.

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    13. Eddy says:

      It looks like Al Gore was right. There is no controlling legal authority! We are screwed!

    14. @tsrblke says:

      True, but if they don't at least come up with that 1.5 trillion (and really that's easy as pie) then it won't pass the house. And if it doesn't pass the house shouldn't it trigger the same rules as if they hadn't produced a bill at all?

    15. Leslie McDowell says:

      The15 member Blue Ribbon Committee for the nuclear waste issue just determined that we should ignore scientific solutions like Yucca Mountain and let communities everywhere volunteer to take it! Maybe this 12 member committee will look for volunteers to take monetary cuts.

    16. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      Call me cynical, but I fear that this supercommittee's Democrats will consist of hard-core statists and its Republicans will consist of squishy, establishment moderates. I would faint if the likes of Michele Bachmann, Jim Jordan, Jim DeMint or Rand Paul made it on this committee. We can only hope that this committee deadlocks which is almost where we were had not the Speaker lost his courage.

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    18. Bobbie says:

      remember sean penn in "i am sam?" he played an exceptionally good part as a retarded person, the only difference is he got paid to play a retarded person! This exceptional talent is shown throughout government and their influenced society, all paid indirectly…

      My point, there's alot of actors in America today with innocent people held to the actors accountabilities! Their actions are shown unwilling to do for themselves when they have plenty TO do for themselves.

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    22. Jay says:

      The next goal should be to get rid of baseline budgeting. At least then a cut will really be a cut! This $1.5T is a joke, when spending and the debt will increase by another $12-14T.
      Maybe they should raise the debt ceiling to cover all of our outstanding obligations, not just the current ones. Would $100T catch anyone's attention? But at least it wouldn't distract us from Christmas….

    23. Pingback: 5 Transparency Ideas for the New Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction | Americas Review

    24. Harry says:

      There is language in Section 402 indicating "this subsection shall not apply to the House of Representatives if the joint committee bill received from the Senate is a revenue measure." Does this mean that if the joint committee bill includes tax revenues, changes or delays can ensue?

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