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Debt Deal Reached?

1:29 AM, Jul 31, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Late Saturday night, ABC News and National Journal reported that the outline of a deal had been reached by congressional leaders and the White House.

ABC's Jonathan Karl reports that "Democratic and Republican Congressional sources involved in the negotiations" tell him that these are the key elements of the deal:

  • A debt ceiling increase of up to $2.1 to $2.4 trillion (depending on the size of the spending cuts agreed to in the final deal).
  • They have now agreed to spending cuts of roughly $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
  • The formation of a special Congressional committee to recommend further deficit reduction of up to $1.6 trillion (whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase).  This deficit reduction could take the form of spending cuts, tax increases or both.
  • The special committee must make recommendations by late November (before Congress' Thanksgiving recess).
  • If Congress does not approve those cuts by December 23, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare. This "trigger" is designed to force action on the deficit reduction committee's recommendations by making the alternative painful to both Democrats and Republicans.
  • A vote, in both the House and Senate, on a balanced budget amendment.
  • An additional element of the deal, according to a report by National Journal's Major Garrett, is that "No net new tax revenue would be part of the special committee's deliberations."

    Karl adds some more key details on the potential automatic Medicare and defense cuts:

    Two sources briefed on the framework say the automatic cuts would hit Defense spending harder than Medicare.  A Republican briefed on the framework says this will be unacceptable to many Republicans because it could force them to face a choice between accepting tax increases (if that is what the committee recommends) or automatic cuts that would gut the Pentagon's budget.

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