Kudos to Those Who Are Resisting Efforts to Turn Off the Trigger!

Nov 22, 2011 | Budget Process

We talked yesterday about the importance of keeping the trigger, or the automatic sequester of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, in place in order to help bring both sides of the aisle back to the negotiating table to enact smart and forward-looking reforms to the budget. Absent putting in place a fiscal plan with savings from all parts of the budget, lawmakers could even strengthen the current trigger to help them produce a package of savings of closer to $3 or $4 trillion over ten years, or annual debt caps, as the Peterson-Pew Commission has called for. Also, it's encouraging to see Senator Durbin calling for a new process that would allow bipartisan proposals to be considered in Congress.

But what we can't do is weaken or dismantle the trigger implemented in the Budget Control Act without putting actual savings or a stronger enforcement mechanism in place. That's why it's very encouraging to see many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, including leaders in Congress and the White House, stepping up to resist efforts to turn off the trigger.

Last night in a press conference following the Super Committee's announcement, President Obama stated that he would veto any efforts to turn off the trigger, affirming that:

“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure. The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees to a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion.”

Likewise, many other lawmakers -- including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) -- have lent support for keeping the trigger in place, sometimes noting that far larger savings are needed.

Mitch McConnell:

"The good news is that even without an agreement, $1.2 trillion will still be cut from the deficit.... While we'll still reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion, much more needs to be done."

Harry Reid:

“Make no mistake: we will achieve the more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction we agreed to in August. The sequester was designed to be painful, and it is. But that is the commitment to fiscal responsibility that both parties made to the American people. In the absence of a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by at least as much, I will oppose any efforts to change or roll back the sequester."

We hope other lawmakers join in resisting efforts to turn off the trigger, and we'll be sure to keep track of them here at The Bottom Line. CRFB hopes lawmakers can come together to enact fiscal reforms. Then, and only then, they should remove the sequester; it should not be the other way around.