TPM News

We'll know in a few hours whether the major and controversial deal to raise the national debt limit and advance major cuts to government services, announced by President Obama and Congressional leaders on Sunday evening, will make its way smoothly to law.

After an intense day of direct and shuttle negotiations, and after a tentative agreement nearly fell apart, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the floor of the Senate late Sunday to announce an agreement in principle.

"The compromise we have agreed to is remarkable for a number of reasons, not only because of what it does, but because of what it prevents," Reid said.

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One of the last sticking points in the debt limit fight comes down to how to guarantee future deficit reduction. Democrats and Republicans have agreed broadly that the question should fall to a new Super Committee, but that if Congress does not pass yet another fiscal package in the coming months, spending should be cut across the board, including from the military and Medicare.

In other words, no automatic tax increases -- nothing to really focus Republican minds on compromising with Democrats on deficit reduction.

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Like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has to consult her caucus before fully buying into a still-forming debt limit deal.

But unlike Reid, she's not keeping completely silent. In a statement to reporters outside her office moments ago, she sounded a strong note of doubt about the prospects for members of her caucus supporting the bill.

"We all may not be able to support it," she said. "And maybe none of us will be able to support it."

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has signed off on a deal to raise the debt limit pending the approval of his caucus -- and of course if can win the backing of Senate GOP leaders and then a majority of the House.

His spokesman confirms that Reid will present the deal to his caucus shortly, with the hope of holding a vote on it Sunday night, giving House leaders some running room to pass the plan before the nation's borrowing authority expires late Tuesday.



The deal works like this:

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Over on the progressive side of politics, they're nursing their wounds and drowning their sorrows as details of the deal to increase the debt ceiling emerge. They feel like they lost to a Republican party that dug in and used the debt ceiling to achieve their goal of dramatically shrinking government spending and solving the deficit problem without raising a single penny in new revenue.

So they might be surprised to know that conservatives don't think they won, either. The right, despite apparently negotiating Obama into a corner that pits him against large parts of his base, still isn't satisfied.

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Progressive groups are speaking out against the debt ceiling deal currently being hashed out in Washington. The response from two of the nation's largest organizations goes essentially like this: really?!?

Progressives are more than a little upset that the deal does not include new revenues upfront, a line in the sand President Obama drew early on in the process and apparently had to abandon as the cogs of the legislative machinery turned hours before the nation went into default. They're casting the deal outlined on the Sunday talk shows this morning as a huge win for Republicans -- and (yet another) agonizing defeat for the left.

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Speaking with reporters after Sunday's failed debt limit vote, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) criticized President Obama for not seizing the initiative and forcing a balanced plan for deficit reduction. He also explained the problems with and merits of a still-forming bipartisan plan that will raise the debt limit.

The key for now, as explained here, is that it avoids default in a way that assures deep spending cuts over the coming decades -- including to entitlement programs -- but provides no guarantees of higher tax revenues.

Specifically the plan calls for a new congressional committee to make and expedite tax and entitlement reform recommendations before the end of the year. If the reforms fail, early leaks suggest that would trigger across the board spending cuts -- including to defense and entitlements -- but no new tax revenue.

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