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Ben Cardin

Washington Mulls New Fiscal 'Failsafe' Mechanism

Of the many distasteful elements to the year-end "fiscal cliff" that Washington is desperately trying to avoid, few are more loathed than the automatic, indiscriminate spending cuts scheduled to begin on Jan. 2.Yet a repeat of this agonizing drama could play out next summer.That is because Congress, as part of deal to avert the year-end fiscal cliff of steep tax increases and across-the-board budget cuts, is likely to enact another forcing mechanism, or trigger, to make sure it keeps its latest round of deficit-reduction promises.Lawmakers say automatic cuts and tax changes will be needed later because there is too little time now to get specific, with Congress racing to undo the damage it did in 2011.At best, President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner will agree on broad targets for increased tax revenues, cuts to federal healthcare and retirement programs and other savings."We are going to need an enforcement mechanism," said Representative James Lankfor...

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