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Right Turn
Posted at 03:18 PM ET, 07/25/2011

Boehner’s solution to the debt-ceiling standoff

A Republican aide aware of the discussions in the House e-mails me the contours of the debt deal the speaker of the House will proceed with:

Republicans insisted if the President wants his debt ceiling increase, the American people will require serious spending cuts and reforms. This two-step approach meets House Republicans’ criteria by (1) making spending cuts that are larger than any debt ceiling increase; (2) implementing spending caps to restrain future spending; and (3) advancing the cause of the Balanced Budget Amendment — without tax hikes on families and job creators. While this is not the House-passed “Cut, Cap, & Balance,” it is a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance. Here is more information on the plan:
●Cuts That Exceed The Debt Hike. The framework would cut and cap discretionary spending immediately, saving $1.2 trillion over 10 years (subject to CBO confirmation), and raise the debt ceiling by less — up to $1 trillion.
●Caps To Control Future Spending. The framework imposes spending caps that would establish clear limits on future spending and serve as a barrier against government expansion while the economy grows. Failure to remain below these caps will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts (otherwise known as sequestration).
●Balanced Budget Amendment. The framework advances the cause of the Balanced Budget Amendment by requiring the House and Senate to vote on the measure after October 1, 2011 but before the end of the year, allowing the American people time to build sufficient support for this popular reform.
●Entitlement Reforms & Savings. The framework creates a Joint Committee of Congress that is required to report legislation that would produce a proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.8 trillion over 10 years. Each Chamber would consider the proposal of the Joint Committee on an up-or-down basis without any amendments. If the proposal is enacted, then the President would be authorized to request a debt limit increase of $1.6 trillion.
●No Tax Hikes. The framework included no tax hikes, a key principle that Republicans have been fighting for since day one.

Is this the same plan the Senate majority leader and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) presented to the White House? A House senior aide tells me, “The plan we are introducing is essentially the plan that McConnell, Boehner, and Reid agreed to and which Reid presented to President.” A Senate adviser confirms, “If there are any changes, they are minor.”

What now? A Republican insider tells me that if/when it passes the House, it will go to the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has his own plan but won’t have 60 votes to pass the Senate. Eventually, the Senate will pass the House bill and send it to the president. Obama can send the country into default or sign it. Hey, isn’t that what Right Turn has been talking about or days now? Yup.

Meanwhile Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell spoke on the Senate floor. This gives you a flavor of what he said:

Everyone agreed that default wasn’t an option, so we put together a responsible proposal that prevented default while reducing Washington spending.
Republicans and yes, some Democrats, have been clear for months that tax hikes couldn’t be part of the package. We’ve also been clear that serious cuts would have to be part of any package.
So taking all this into consideration, the responsible path forward was clear to everyone: a plan that avoided default and required additional savings before any further increase in the debt limit.
Leaders from both parties in both houses agreed that this was the right path forward legislatively. The only thing to do at that point was to present this bipartisan solution to the President.
And what was the President’s response: to demand the largest single debt limit increase in history, half a trillion more than the previous biggest increase Democrats approved two years ago when they controlled both Congress and the White House.
And this was the President’s justification — as he put it on Friday, “The only bottom line I have is that we have to extend this debt ceiling through the next election, into 2013.”
There is absolutely no economic justification for insisting on a debt-limit increase that brings us through the next election.
It’s not the beginning of a fiscal year.
It’s not the beginning of a calendar year.
Based on his own words, it’s hard to conclude that this request has to do with anything, in fact, other than the President’s reelection.
Look: Congress has raised the federal debt limit 62 times since 1972. The average length of an increase over that period is just over seven months. But now the President says it has to be nearly two years. Why? So he can continue to spend as he pleases.
This weekend, we offered the President a bipartisan proposal to avoid default so we could have the time we need to put together a serious plan for getting our house in order, and he rejected it out of hand. Not for economic reasons. But, as he put it, “to extend this debt ceiling through the next election.”
Time is running out. And with all due respect to the President, we have more important things to worry about than getting through the next election.

There is a way to give Obama the political plum he wants: Agree to cut, cap and balance. If the election is really the most important thing and the only “must-have” (he’s had lots of must-haves along the way — a clean debt bill, higher taxes, etc.), he can agree to CCB. Or, if he isn’t terrified of doing this all over again, he can sign the new Boehner bill.

You would think the president has no leverage and is a hindrance to the process. And you would be right. And it might also be right that Reid and McConnell had this as the back-up plan all along that they’d eventually get through their respective houses. Hmm.

By  |  03:18 PM ET, 07/25/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign, Budget

 
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