The “debt clock” must have been at 21:58 with minutes clicking on, when the leadership came to a deal . This afternoon we wait to see if the House and Senate members will cobble together enough votes to pass and send it on to the President for signature. It is not a deal anyone finds to their liking. Republicans are grateful that there are no taxes and that the savings come from spending cuts – mostly in discretionary funds ($350 Billion over ten years in Department of Defense, $400 Billion in non-military over the same time). Democrats are grateful that there is only one required vote – not dragging this out for the next six to eight months and blocking all other congressional work. And they are grateful that mandated programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Pell Grants and they are grateful for a bi-partisan commission which is not barred from looking at revenue increases.
Good to have a deal – better if it is passed in both chambers this afternoon. But, the work is not screeching to a halt! All the cuts in both defense and non-defense spending will be worked out in the appropriations decisions, particularly for 2012 and 2013. The next few weeks will be critical in examining the “caps” placed on spending categories and determining what programs we need to put our greatest energies into supporting.
Our work, keeping legislators aware of the impacts of their decisions, will only escalate in the weeks and months ahead. The work by our advocates in the field is far from over. Legislators are most swayed by the appeals from their own constituents, who have the power to reelect or not reelect. So, voices of constituents are needed more than ever in the decisions on how the cuts will be apportioned across programs. I plead with all those who care about those who struggle to survive economically, to continue to work with us at NETWORK. Write your emails, make the phone calls and go to home offices as often as you can.