John Boehner Debt Plan Cuts $915 Billion From Deficit: CBO
WASHINGTON -- One day after being rebuked for introducing a debt ceiling plan that fell short of the Tea Party's desired levels of cuts, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced a revised debt limit plan that would cut $22 billion in spending for the 2012 fiscal year, an attempt to win support from conservative members who said his previous plan did not go far enough.
The bill would reduce the deficit by $915 billion while raising the debt limit by $900 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office -- a balance that keeps with Boehner's vow to impose cuts that either match or exceed the debt ceiling hike.
A senior GOP aide said the Rules Committee is expected to take up Boehner's revised bill at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, after the House wraps up its votes.
Boehner drew heat for the CBO score on his previous plan, which would have raised the debt ceiling by a larger figure than it slashed in spending -- a non-negotiable to many Republicans. Tea Party groups and a number of members of his conference came out against the bill, saying it was too weak to be approved.
That plan would have shaved $1 billion from the deficit during the next fiscal year and $850 billion over the next decade, the CBO reported on Tuesday, a far cry from the $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years that were promised. After the CBO score was released, the leadership announced it would rewrite the bill to ensure it cut a larger amount than its debt ceiling increase.
The new bill, though, stands better chance of passage. Without Democratic votes, Boehner can lose 23 Republicans for his plan, which will see a vote later this week.
Some Republicans will likely continue to oppose the bill because of the way it handles the balanced budget amendment. Boehner's plan would require a vote on the amendment, but not passage, which some say throws too little weight behind what they see as the only path to fiscal responsibility.
"I just can't [support Boehner's plan], I want to do something better," Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) told HuffPost on Wednesday. "They are doing a really great job and trying to put something great out there, but my message is thanks, you guys, but we've already got something great out there. Let's push Cut, Cap and Balance."
Others, though, may be more likely to support the plan with larger cuts, particularly over a plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The Reid plan would cut $2.2 trillion from the deficit over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, but would raise the debt ceiling by nearly as much. Reid's plan also counted nearly $1 trillion in war costs, which Republicans say should not be considered savings.
The Republican leadership is cracking down on its membership, according to reports, and many privately say they expect the Boehner plan to pass.
"It's far from perfect, I call it 'Cut, Cap and Balance Light,' but it gets close enough for me," Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) told HuffPost of the Boehner plan. "Because if not this, than what?"
Beyond the $22 billion in 2012 fiscal year cuts, the Boehner bill would require Congress to draft proposals that cut at least $1.8 trillion from Medicare and Social Security. It would also make major cuts to Pell Grants, which help students attend college, and establish caps on discretionary spending until 2021.
First, though, the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate and beyond, with Reid threatening to vote it down and President Barack Obama promising a veto.
Additional reporting by Jennifer Bendery