White House officials today acknowledged that they had not met the deadline to outline how the president would make the defense cuts required by law to be made because of the failure of the bipartisan, poorly-named Super-committee to agree on $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years.
Because of the failure of the Super-committee, a self-imposed sword of Damocles will fall, requiring $1.2 trillion in spending cuts that neither Democrats nor Republicans desire, specifically $109 billion from Pentagon and domestic spending in just the next year.
In the fine Washington tradition of never giving anything a name that makes sense to anyone outside the 202 area code, these cuts are called the "sequester."
One month ago, the president signed the "Sequestration Transparency Act," a law that imposed upon him a 30 day deadline to outline what Pentagon spending will be cut. That deadline was last night.
White House press secretary Jay Carney today said White House officials would hand in their assignment next week.
In a statement, Sen. John Thune, R-SD, author of the bill said that "Americans of all stripes are required to play by the rules and follow the laws of the land. Unfortunately, by disregarding the sequestration reporting deadline, the Obama Administration seems to think it is above the law. The American people deserve to know the president's plan for implementing these cuts, some of which our military leaders have said will compromise our nation's ability to protect itself. Every day that the administration delays being transparent with the American people on the sequester moves us one day closer to going over the fiscal cliff."
These cuts are set to take effect on January 1, coinciding with the expiration of $4 trillion in lower tax rates enacted into law by President Bush and extended by President Obama. Combined with the expiration of a payroll tax cut, the whole shebang - assuming no compromise is reached to delay the massive tax increases and spending cuts - is referred to as the "Fiscal Cliff."
The Super-committee (which is to committees as Supercuts is to cuts, as Jimmy Kimmel once quipped) failed to arrive at any agreement because Republicans were generally unwilling to go along with tax increases and Democrats were generally unwilling to agree on re-structuring any "entitlement" programs such as Medicare.
-Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce