In a first vote that was meant to set the lines of demarcation in the coming budget fight, a bill that would raise the U.S. debt limit by $2.4 trillion went down to defeat in the House of Representatives yesterday. Of course the bill was designed to lose as part of the wider posturing and negotiations that are ongoing in the twin efforts to increase the national debt ceiling and cut the $14+ trillion debt. House Republicans met with President Obama today, looking for an agreement on spending cuts made in exchange for raising the debt ceiling; and Vice President Joe Biden has been leading negotiations for weeks with the idea of a grand bargain that could lead to $1 trillion in spending cuts for a boost in the debt ceiling. What might $1 trillion in cuts look like? Farm subsidies, benefits for government workers and spending caps have all been discussed, and while $1 trillion isn’t chump change, there are many more difficult decisions to be made. Will the debt ceiling ultimately be increased and is the country’s political leadership finally serious about tackling our structural debt?
Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget & director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation