CommunityFDL Action

Rejecting False Choices

With the debt ceiling deal now law, the next stage of using artificial crisis to force austerity onto the American people begins. This next time instead of members of Congress saying they must vote for big cuts to avoid default, they will be able to point to the newly created triggers in this deal as the justification for supporting the proposal from the Super Congress.

The triggers in the deal are meant to present the American people with a false choice, accept cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits or allow major cuts in soldiers’ pay and veterans’ care, diabolically creating an artificial situation that pit senior citizens against our military personal. That is why it is important to stress that triggers aren’t real. There is no need for them to be pulled.

One Congress can’t bind the actions of another Congress, especially when it is to implement highly unpopular policy. Our legislative system is basically full of triggers that never get pulled. There is the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the Medicare SGR (Sustainable Growth Rate), the alternative minimum tax, extension of the Patriot act, etc… These are laws that are “triggered” to take effect or stop but Congress simply takes steps to prevent change from happening.

There is no reason that if the Super Congress’s package is rejected, Congress can’t also turn around and vote to prevent the triggers in the debt deal from going into effect. The same logic some are using to say the triggers are so unpopular they will do a good forcing a bipartisan deal applies equally to believing the triggers will never be allowed be pulled even if the Super Congress is rejected. If the cuts are unpopular with Congress and politically damaging, Congress will simply find a way to stop them from happening anyway. If you think right before the election President Obama would veto a bill that protects soldiers’ pay because he is committed to make this set of triggers real, you haven’t been paying attention.

Similarly, there is no reason to believe voting for the Super Congress’s bill will actually prevent the triggered cuts from happening. Republicans could easily allow the Super Congress bill to pass, and then right afterwards use a hostage situation to demand the cuts the trigger cuts be put in place anyway.

The groundwork is now laid to make cutting our social safety net easier by excuse of these triggers, the false choice already created so that those who oppose a bill that hurts seniors can be accused of not supporting our troops or national safety. Totally reject this false framing. There is nothing stopping Congress from rejecting the Super Congress’s austerity package and also voting to not allow these cuts to happen.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at