Democratic members of the Super Committee charged with proposing $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction before Thanksgiving say tax hikes must be on the agenda.
In an opening volley in the newly formed committee, Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and John Kerry, D-Mass., stake their territory in an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, arguing an early 1990s bipartisan deficit-cutting deal provides a precedent for today’s challenges.
“We know it may seem like the problems we face are intractable,” the senators wrote. “But we were around in the 1990s when Democrats and Republicans came together to balance the budget and put us on the path to eliminating our national debt … We did that by making tough choices and casting tough votes—including raising revenue.”
The Senate Democrats are apparently referring to the 1990 budget agreement, which came on the heels of what was then an unprecedented run-up of budget deficits during the Reagan years. Many of the circumstances were similar.
Under the then-governing Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act, failure to cut the deficit would have resulted in automatic cuts unpopular on both sides of the political aisle—similar to the sequestration mechanism in the current law that would force across-the-board cuts if agreement is not reached.
This poison-pill agreement would require that half the cuts come from defense and half from domestic spending (excluding Social Security and Medicare), making a failure to reach agreement nearly unimaginable.