The Washington Post

Do Obama and Boehner agree on 90 percent of the GOP’s spending cuts?

On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Speaker John Boehner said that 90 percent of the spending cuts the GOP included in its payroll tax cut bill are ideas, “frankly, the president agrees with.” If so, that’s quite a lot of agreement. But Politico’s David Rogers took a closer look, and he’s skeptical:

Asked by POLITICO to explain this claim, Boehner’s office pointed to a document prepared by Cantor’s staff comparing the House bill with past positions taken by the White House, sometime during closed-door deficit reductions talks this past summer. But getting to 90 percent agreement takes a real stretch. And left out of the whole GOP analysis is the fact is that the administration only made some of these offers in the context of budget talks in which it was also asking Republicans to agree to more revenues—not another tax cut—to relieve the nation’s debt.

Indeed, a closer review of the House bill—assisted by staff at the non-profit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities with long experience at the Congressional Budget Office—suggests the areas of real agreement are closer to 60 percent, not 90.

The Center’s staff estimates that $28.9 billion or close to 40 percent of the healthcare-related savings in the Republican package go beyond what the White House had proposed. The GOP admits itself that Obama has never accepted the notion of saving $9.4 billion by requiring to requiring a Social Security number to qualify for the Child Tax Credit. And there’s a huge $45 billion gap over what combination of pay freezes and increased retirement contributions will be demanded from federal workers—and how to treat these in the context of the larger budget.

For example, Obama has implemented a civilian pay freeze for 2012 to help agencies with the tighter appropriations caps agreed to last August. The House bill would extend this a year but then also tighten the 10-year caps by $26 billion accordingly, a serious modification of the August debt deal and one that would deny the president any chance to use the pay savings to implement his agenda.

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