No sooner did House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) unveil his plan to raise the country’s debt ceiling and avoid default than a coalition of conservative groups and lawmakers panned the proposal.
The Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition is a group of more than 100 conservative groups and several dozen lawmakers in both chambers who have called for passage of a balanced budget amendment in exchange for a vote to raise the country’s debt ceiling. The group said in a statement Monday afternoon that the plan put forth by House Republican leaders “falls short of meeting (the coalition’s) principles.”
“Perhaps most troubling is the proposed Congressional Commission,” the coalition said in its statement, referring to a component of Boehner’s plan that calls for a bipartisan group of lawmakers to make decisions on spending cuts. “History has shown that such commissions, while well-intentioned, make it easier to raise taxes than to institute enduring budget reforms.”
The coalition also criticized Boehner’s proposal for allowing only “a symbolic vote” on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, a move that it said “minimizes (the) importance” of such an amendment.
“This Coalition is willing to sacrifice much in return for a permanent solution to this issue, but we will not sacrifice the fundamental principles of (cut, cap and balance),” the group’s statement reads. “To be clear, we are not criticizing the Speaker; however, we cannot support his framework, and we urge those who have signed the Pledge to oppose it and hold out for a better plan.”
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Boehner and other House Republican leaders acknowledged that their proposal does not include everything their party had been aiming for in the debt-ceiling talks.
“This legislation reflects a bipartisan negotiation over the weekend with our colleagues in the Senate,” Boehner said. “And as a result of this bipartisan negotiation, I would call this plan less than perfect. But it does ensure that the spending cuts would be greater than the increase in the debt, and secondly, there are no tax increases in this plan.”
Several members leaving the House Republicans’ closed-door conference meeting Monday afternoon said they were withholding judgment on the proposal until they had a chance to fully examine it. But two conservative freshmen senators, Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), quickly announced their opposition to both the Boehner plan and a separate proposal by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“The proposed deals being discussed today by House Republican and Senate Democrat leaders do not make cuts to our debt,” Paul said. “They do not solve our debt problems. They do not balance the budget, ever.”
Lee said in a statement that “both plans represent typical Washington answers to the federal government’s out-of-control spending problem.”
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