Debt Ceiling Deal: Do Not Open Until Christmas

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U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives a thumbs up when asked whether a deal has been reached regarding the ongoing debate on the national debt reduction on July 31 in Washington. As the United States approaches the possibility of a default, the congressional leaders and the White House try to reach an agreement on measures to lift the debt ceiling. (credit: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives a thumbs up when asked whether a deal has been reached regarding the ongoing debate on the national debt reduction on July 31 in Washington. As the United States approaches the possibility of a default, the congressional leaders and the White House try to reach an agreement on measures to lift the debt ceiling. (credit: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

When reports of the debt ceiling agreement were announced over the weekend, the only thing missing was a federal official stating that our long national nightmare was over.

The drama that has been building over the last few weeks of failed negotiations created a dramatic series of announcements that our government had been saved from the brink of default and even markets overseas were responding well to the news.

It felt like a good ending to a July Hollywood movie blockbuster. And like any good summer blockbuster, it all but guaranteed us a sequel. The details of the big agreement set the stage for round two to be played out in just a few months.

Let me provide a bit more detail. The agreement that was arrived at this weekend approves a $900 billion dollar growth to the federal government debt limit, and includes an initial amount of spending cuts of $917 billion dollars over the next ten years.

But, there is an important catch.

So that proper debate can take place on how to make these cuts, as if the last three months weren’t enough, a super committee of six House members, and six Senators, three from each party, will propose the cuts. Their deadline for their proposal is, you guessed it, Christmas.

A neat wrinkle in the agreement is that if this committee cannot agree on spending cuts by Christmas, across the board budget cuts will be installed automatically.

That caveat sounds innocent enough in July. But it doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict that those same “across the board cuts” will be made to look like the death knell to social programs and our military as the committee gets closer and closer to their Christmas deadline with no agreement. The script may not live up to Defaultageddon standards, (sequels rarely do) but it will be dramatic, because Congressional deadlines always are.

It’s easy to see why non-partisan Americans get so frustrated and cynical about politics in our country. When politics in Washington simply become repeated dramas, it’s hard to imagine that anything productive is really getting done.

It’s like once you see a big comic book action movie in 3-D, all of the movies that follow it may try to add more special effects, but it feels like the same movie over and over again.

I’d like to hope that without the threat of an imminent historic default hanging over their heads, a reasonable group of politicians can indeed arrive at a set of compromised spending cuts that everyone can agree upon and move the country forward.

But let’s face it, that scenario sounds crazier than Cowboys vs. Aliens.

More Coverage From CBSNews.com: White House sells debt deal ahead of congressional vote

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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