As they struggle to reach an agreement over how to extend the nation’s debt limit and trim budget deficits, Republicans and Democrats are turning to an enforcement tool, called a “trigger,” with a history of failure.
Republican congressional leaders, in a fresh strategy after repeatedly failing to dismantle President Barack Obama’s health-care law, are leaning toward an effort to postpone it rather than choke off funding.
In early 2001, Paul O’Neill, the new Treasury secretary, began work on a plan for radical tax reform. He wanted simpler forms and fewer deductions, which would make it easy for people to prepare their taxes and cost the government less to process them. He presented a five-inch-thick binder of research to a senior White House official.
Republican Senator Rob Portman doesn’t have a committee chairmanship or a leadership post. One asset he wields in the politically divided capital is a direct line to a prominent Democrat: Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
The implosion of the congressional supercommittee is likely to delay any major deficit-reduction agreement until after the next presidential election and may pose an immediate threat to the struggling U.S. economy.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. has “a unique opportunity to do something big to tackle our deficit,” and that he opposes a short-term measure that would raise the country’s debt limit without addressing more basic fixes to the government’s finances.