THE HILL (Feb 15): The House and Senate each voted Friday to recess for the Presidents Day week, which means lawmakers will have just four days — once they return — to deal with the $85 billion sequester due to take effect March 1… House Democrats have spent the week arguing that the House should not recess for the week, so that it can work on a sequester replacement plan. But the House voted 222-190 on Friday morning to recess next week — every Democrat voted against it, along with just four Republicans… both the House and Senate will return at 2 p.m. Feb. 25.
When they return on Feb. 25…
WASHINGTON POST / Senate Democrats propose cuts, tax hikes on rich to avoid sequester: The proposal would raise $110 billion to replace the sequester through Jan. 2, 2014, when across-the-board cuts adopted during the 2011 debt-limit showdown would kick back in for the rest of the decade. Half the new savings would come from spending cuts, including an end to direct federal payments to farmers and deeper cuts to the Pentagon after 2015. The other half would come from tax hikes, primarily on millionaires. Households earning more than $2 million a year would have to pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal taxes.
WASHINGTON POST / There are now four big plans to stop the sequester: 1) The new plan from Senate Democrats: Replace one year of the sequester with defense cuts, domestic cuts and tax hikes. 2) The old House GOP plan: Eliminate other government programs to replace the sequester cuts. 3) The House Democratic plan: Fend off the sequester for one year by raising taxes and cutting farm subsidies. 4) President Obama’s plan to fend off the sequester for a short while with a smaller package of cuts and tax reforms.
NATIONAL JOURNAL (Feb 11): Sequestration is now the most likely scenario, according to 78 percent of National Journal‘s National Security Insiders, who are not optimistic that Congress and the White House will reach a deal to reduce the deficit by the March 1 deadline. [...] ”If Republicans cannot get a new deal involving entitlement cuts but no added tax revenue, they prefer accepting sequestration cuts to defense programs as the price of getting some cuts to civil programs. If Democrats cannot get a deal involving more tax revenue but without entitlement cuts, they prefer accepting sequestration cuts to civil programs as the price of getting some defense cuts,” one Insider said. “And neither side thinks it can get a new deal that is acceptable to it.”
THINK PROGRESS: House Republicans have yet to roll out a new plan of their own to replace the sequester, instead pointing to a sequester replacement bill that they passed in the last Congress (that they have no plans to vote on again). The Congressional Progressive Caucus has also proposed a replacement for the sequester. Here’s a comparison of the three plans:
|House Republican Plan||Senate Democratic plan||Congressional Progressive Caucus Plan|
|Replaces the sequester with only domestic spending cuts.||Replaces the sequester with $110 billion in deficit reduction, equally split between spending cuts and revenue.||Replaces the sequester with $960 billion in new revenue, $278 billion in defense cuts, and invests in new job creation measures.|
|Includes no new revenue. Denies the Child Tax Credit to parents who are undocumented immigrants.||Includes $55 billion in revenue, split between: a 30 percent minimum tax on millionaires (the Buffett rule), repealing subsidies for oil companies, and eliminating the ability of corporations to deduct the cost of moving jobs overseas.||Reinstates the Making Work Pay tax credit. Ends the carried interest loophole that benefits wealthy money managers, closes tax loopholes that encourage corporations to send profits to offshore tax havens, cuts oil subsidies, closes loopholes that benefit buyers of private jets and yachts, and closes loopholes in the estate tax.|
|Voids defense cuts.||Includes $27.5 billion in cuts to defense spending.||Includes $278 billion in cuts to defense spending.|
|Cuts domestic spending via: cutting food stamps, Medicaid, and the social services block grant (which, among other things, funds Meals on Wheels).||Cuts domestic spending via ending direct agriculture subsidies, “which are currently provided regardless of yields, prices, or farm income.”||Invests $160 billion in infrastructure.|
…The sequester itself, meanwhile, would devastate several important programs that have already been hurt by budget cuts. Already, the deficit reduction achieved since 2010 (which is hampering economic growth and hurting job creation) has been primarily achieved through spending cuts. In fact, just one-quarter of it has come through new revenue… Only the CPC’s plan would result in deficit reduction having been achieved through equal parts spending cuts and new revenue. The CPC plan is also the only one acknowledging that job creation, not the deficit, is the country’s most pressing problem.