The conservative Republican Study Committee is planning to release a set of guidelines as early as next week detailing its conditions for a vote on raising the country’s debt ceiling.
The plan calls for immediate spending cuts, spending caps at about 18 percent of GDP and a balanced-budget amendment similar to the plan unveiled by Senate Republicans in March, according to an aide with knowledge of the plan. The proposal does not include Medicare reforms, said the aide, who was not authorized to talk publicly about the plan.
“We’re putting together what we think makes sense at the RSC,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), RSC chairman, said in a brief interview Thursday. “We will plan to have some guidelines in place next week. We had a couple of meetings this week. We had our regular meeting; we had our steering committee meeting this morning. So we will plan to have that out next week.”
The conservative caucus includes more than three-quarters of all GOP House members
The House aide said Friday that the group would take a “three-pronged approach” to spending limits.
The RSC’s proposal calls for slashing spending immediately, amounting to at least the level included in House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) 2012 fiscal year blueprint. The Ryan budget, which was passed by the House last month, would reduce deficit spending by trillions of dollars over the next decade, including spending cuts of $180 billion over the next fiscal year.
For the mid-term, the plan would put statutory spending caps at about 18 percent of GDP. The balanced-budget amendment is part of the long-term goal.
The House aide said that while the RSC fully supports the Medicare reforms included in the Ryan bill, the group is focusing on the pure spending aspects of the budget for the debt limit debate. Ryan’s budget would enact sweeping long-term changes to Medicare, converting it into a program in which private insurers would cover seniors, rather than having the government directly reimburses health-care providers.
The RSC is made up of 176 conservative Republicans, or 76 percent of the entire House Republican conference. Last month, the group’s clout was on display as the House voted on its 2012 budget blueprint. The RSC’s alternative to the Ryan plan fell only a handful of votes short of passage.
Some conservative House Republicans have floated the idea of raising the debt limit every two months instead of all at once, similar to the approach taken in the recent battle to avert a federal shutdown. The RSC’s proposal would not necessarily include such a measure, the aide said.
On Monday, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the United States now has until Aug. 2 to raise the legal limit on federal borrowing, 25 days longer than he had estimated last month. The reprieve is largely the result of higher tax revenues than anticipated. In a letter to Congress, Geithner again warned that a failure to raise the $14.3 trillion debt limit “would have a catastrophic economic impact.”
Jordan emphasized Thursday that the RSC remains committed to overhauling federal entitlement programs in the broader spending battle.
“I mean, look,” Jordan said. “The thing I keep stressing with members is how serious the situation is. ... So we’ve got, I think, to understand how serious it is and look at what has to happen to actually fix the financial picture of this country and the fiscal situation of this country. And that involves changes to Medicare, to save it and not bankrupt the country. It involves cutting spending elsewhere. It involves growing our economy elsewhere.”
Asked about the recent remarks by Republican leaders suggesting that a Medicare deal with Democrats is unlikely, Jordan said Thursday that he believed “it’s way too early to tell.”