Boehner’s Debt-Limit Framework (UPDATED)

Fox News had this first – it’s what House Speaker John Boehner presented to the GOP this afternoon as part of his latest plan on the debt limit…

Two-Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable

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.

In short, it’s a short-term plan. $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years with a $1 trillion debt limit increase.

The word is that the Democrats will announce a plan with $2.7 trillion in spending cuts and a debt limit increase that carries the government past next year’s election. This apparently came after Boehner and Harry Reid hammered out a bipartisan agreement along the lines of this two-part formula on the debt limit – and then Reid took it to Obama, who turned it down.

After that rather bizarre circumstance, from the looks of it the Dems might have panicked. Except that as Ace notes, all Reid did was essentially take Boehner’s number and then add the “savings” from not fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq over the next 10 years to get to $2.7 trillion so that he could jack up the debt limit increase and carry Obama past the election.

Which means that outside of Reid’s essentially punting on the idea of raising taxes on the rich – which for all the legacy media’s guffawing about how Cut, Cap and Balance was “unrealistic” was the one idea  which absolutely had no chance of coming to pass – this is the definition of “plenty of nothing.” Why the GOP would sign off on such a deal is a good question. Reid obviously thought he could get a few squishy Republican Senators to sign off and split the Right. He might end up with an opposite result seeing as though so many Dems think it’s more important to soak the rich than avoid default.

And now we have this narrative from the Left – namely, that Republicans are offering a short-term deal so that they can trash the economy in time for the 2012 election. Ed Markey made that stupid statement this morning, but lefties on the internet have been making it all weekend.

The thing is, there is no evidence that the debt-limit debate going on now is trashing the economy. The Dow took a plunge early today but has generally rebounded – as of 1:30 central time it’s off all of 43 points – and it’s hovered around 12,500 ever since this issue took center stage. And if anyone pays attention to the bond rating agencies, they’re singing a song the Left isn’t hearing; namely, that the issue of raising the debt limit is basically a distraction compared to the real issue behind all this, the debt. The bond raters are troubled by the idea of default, sure, but what they’re really saying is that the federal government is spending way too much money and if this doesn’t stop they’re going to have to downgrade Uncle Sam’s debt. And should that happen, you’ll see interest rates take off – which will make the deficit worse along with making finance costs throughout the economy rise. And that would make for a pretty sharp falloff in economic activity.

Which is somewhat ironic. Morons like Markey are accusing the GOP of trying to tank the economy for political purposes while at the same time looking for a “clean” debt limit increase or one which raises taxes – either of which would surely slow the economy down.

UPDATE: The Washington Post’s Jen Rubin dives into Reid’s numbers and comes up with the same conclusion we did – namely, that his plan is bullshit, with one key concession…

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is devising a sham that will never pass muster in the House. A Capitol Hill source with knowledge of the plan tells me: “It includes $1.2 trillion in OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] savings . . . which was assumed anyway, $1.2 trillion (over $1.1 trillion less than [Majority Leader Eric] Cantor identified in the Biden talks) and $300 billion in interest savings.” A Senate aide says dryly that Reid “has about a trillion in ‘savings’ from ending the war in Iraq that’s already going to end.” And a disgusted House adviser bluntly tells me that Reid’s plan “isn’t real.”

We shouldn’t be too harsh on Reid. HE DID reach a bipartisan deal with the House. But the president squashed it. (Note to Congress: Next time don’t ask, just pass it and leave town.) Now we are back to gamesmanship.

It is extremely telling, however, that Reid’s plan contains NO tax hike. As I suspected, Obama doesn’t have enough support even in his own party (and particularly from Senate Democrats facing reelection) to pass the massive tax increases that he and his liberal base demand. And yet Obama at the last minute in negotiations with the speaker of the House last week threw in $400 billion in more taxes. There could only have been one purpose for that, since the Senate is as tax-hike-averse as the House: to create a crisis. We have finally found the president’s strong suit.



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