Repeal the “fiscal cliff”

We hear a lot about Congress and Obama working to find some elusive deal that could stave off the “fiscal cliff”, and occasionally we also hear about why we should to avoid it: According to the Congressional Budget Office, allowing the “cliff” to happen is likely to send the economy back into recession in 2013, and sharply increase unemployment.

What we don’t hear much about is that Congress can simply repeal the fiscal cliff, without any complicated deals.

“Sequestration” – the automatic spending cuts that start to take effect in January – is just a law passed by Congress in 2011. Congress can repeal it, and that alone would be enough to prevent a recession in 2013 according to the CBO report – even if all the Bush tax cuts expire.

Extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits would double the impact. Extending the Bush tax cuts on income below $250,000 would do even more (In contrast, extending the Bush tax cuts on higher income would, according to the CBO, have very little impact). But even if we did neither of those sensible things, just repealing sequestration would be much better than doing nothing. Neither Congressional Democrats nor Republicans actually like sequestration or want it to happen. So why do we hear so little in the news about that option?

I started a petition on change.org: Congress: Repeal the “fiscal cliff”.
Please sign it, re-post it, and send it on to others.

Recommended by somervilletom, christopher.



Discuss

6 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Get rid of the debt ceiling while we are at it.

    The President has (surprise, surprise) pre-emptively taken a point of leverage off the table by saying he will not invoke the 14th amendment to pay our debts. That’s not even the most relevant constitutional provision since it specifically deals with post-Civil War housekeeping. Congress has already voted to borrow or spend this debt of ours. The more relevant provision, I think, is the first sentence of Article II: “The Executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States.” By definition it is the job of an executive of a country, corporation, non-profit, club, etc. to see that the organization is responsible about its finances, pays its bills, etc. Forget Congress – tell the Treasury to start paying the debts we’ve incurred.

    • Separate

      I’m in favor of removing the debt ceiling altogether, but that’s not the same thing as simply repealing the 2011 sequestration. Furthermore, while pretty much everyone agrees that sequestration as is is a bad idea and we’d be better off without it, Republicans overall do want to keep the debt ceiling, so there’s actual disagreement about that, not just brinkmanship. And, the debt ceiling isn’t about to hit right now, so it’s something that we’ll have to deal with eventually but not with the same urgency.

      So, better to keep these two things separate, for simplicity’s sake. If we can repeal sequestration within the next month or two, that’ll prevent a lot of damage.

    • Yes and no

      Constitution clearly gives Congress the power of the purse, so the executive analogy is not apt, though you may have a point that they can raise revenue but they may lack the authority to cut spending. That said the line item veto failed to pass SCOTUS so I would strongly doubt the President could actually get this authority. That said its ironic those that cling to the Constitution and originalism insist on defending terms like ‘debt ceiling’ and ‘filibuster’ that aren’t in there. If the right to privacy doesn’t exist in the Constitution those certainly can’t.

      I honestly think the President knows full well that he has Boehner in a vice and the longer he stalls the more likely it is we go past the cliff, the budget nearly gets balanced thanks to necessary defense cuts and ending the Bush tax cuts, and then the GOP would clearly restore the cuts for the middle class or face ruin. And if the Tea Party stabs Boehner thats even better since we can take back the house against the rudderless opposition.

  2. Agree

    The problem clearly is politics. The House GOP having “won” this deal in their 2011 staring contest over the debt ceiling, I imagine they’d be loath simply to repeal it. But it is a clear and simple option that, as you say, solves the economic contraction problem. I’ve been encouraged that the President and Congressional Dems seem determined to hold the line this time, and the pressure will be on the GOP to avert contraction.

    For the long term, I have real concerns about the payroll tax cut. In the current Beltway climate, where it’s a given to so many people that S.S. needs major “reform” (shorthand for benefit cuts), it seems to play into the wrong hands. In late 2010 I thought it unfortunate this was the only “stimulus” he could get, since it’s a stalking horse. They’re creating an actual S.S. funding problem where no serious one existed before.

    • politics it is

      > The problem clearly is politics. The House GOP having “won” this deal in their 2011 staring contest over the debt ceiling, I imagine they’d be loath simply to repeal it.

      Exactly!

      Which is the whole point of this petition. Currently, the public is not aware of the fact that this is a self-created pseudo-crisis that Congress made for itself and Republicans are hesitant to repeal, because so little of the media coverage of it even mentions that it can just be repealed. Republicans are hiding behind that lack of awareness.

      So let’s make the public aware. Please re-post this petition in some other places? Twitter, your Facebook, G+, etc.

  3. JConway...

    …the Congress has the power to appropriate and borrow money, which has already been done. Remember the debt ceiling is not about trying to incur more debt, but rather paying off what has already been incurred. The President by virtue of prior authorization has every right it seems to act on it.

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Sat 1 Nov 4:19 AM