Today, Ranking Senate Budget Committee Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The letter stated that under the Budget Control Act, all of the $2.1 trillion planned spending cuts would have to go into effect under a deal, and other spending cuts would need to take place in order to pay for the so-called “doc fix,” which raises doctor reimbursement rates.
The letter in its entirety reads:
It is my understanding that some of the items that may be raised in your fiscal negotiations would increase spending above the levels projected under the Budget Control Act and therefore need to be offset through reductions elsewhere. These items include a one-year continuation of extended Unemployment Insurance (at a cost of $26 billion), the 2 percentage point payroll tax cut (increasing on-budget spending by $90 billion), and a freeze in the reimbursement rates paid to physicians in the Medicare program ($11 billon). Offsets for any of these changes must also be achieved through real savings, not gimmicks like counting baseline savings from future war spending that is not expected to occur.
As you know, the BCA signed into law August of last year required that spending be reduced by $2.1 trillion in exchange for an immediate $2.1 trillion increase in the debt limit. These are reductions in the rate of growth and domestic spending will still increase dramatically every single year, resulting in $8 trillion instead of $10 trillion in new spending overall. Congress must reorganize and reprioritize these cuts, but we must not retreat from the overall amount Congress agreed to and that the President signed into law.
I appreciate your consideration of these matters.
Senator Jeff Sessions
Sessions, of course, is correct. Any deal that gimmicks its way out of actual spending cuts is unacceptable under the Budget Control Act. And Congress will always attempt to gimmick unless forewarned. Now Sessions has forewarned them.