Boehner on Plan to Increase Debt Limit: ‘Less Than Perfect’ but ‘Good Step in the Right Direction’

By John R Parkinson

Jul 25, 2011 5:32pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:

House Speaker John Boehner admits that his latest proposal to keep the government from defaulting on its debt obligations is “less than perfect” but he called it a “good step in the right direction” that he says would preserve the full faith and credit of the United States government.

Following a meeting this afternoon with the House Republican Conference, Boehner told reporters that he discussed a two-step approach to cutting spending – with discretionary spending caps now, and also the formation of a bipartisan, bicameral special committee with a mandate to identify additional deficit reductions by the end of the year.

“We believe that it’s a responsible commonsense plan that meets our obligations to the American people and preserves the full faith and credit of the United States government,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.  “This legislation reflects a bipartisan negotiation over the weekend with our colleagues in the Senate and as a result of this bipartisan negotiation, I would call this plan less than perfect, but it does ensure that the spending cuts will be greater than the hike in the debt limit and secondly there are no tax increases that are part of this plan.”

Boehner said the legislation would also require the House and Senate to each have a vote on a balanced budget amendment after October 1 and before a second package of deficit reduction is brought to the floor – allowing for enough time for support to materialize around a balanced budget amendment.

“We believe this allows time for those who support the balanced budget amendment – people like myself and those behind me – to get behind one version of a balanced budget amendment and secondly allow time for our members to build support for a balanced budget across the country,” Boehner said. “The ultimate enforcement mechanism for the American people on an out of control government is to have a balanced budget. It’s time for America to help us make that a reality.”

The legislative details of the pitch are still being worked out although the bill is expected to be posted online later Monday evening.

Boehner predicted that the proposal would win enough support to pass the House and the Senate, and he called on President Obama to retract his threat to veto legislation that does not raise the debt limit in one fell swoop.

“Time’s running short,” Boehner warned. “I’m urging my House colleagues to support it and I’m urging my Senate colleagues to support it as well, and I think it would be irresponsible for the president to veto such legislation, because it is a commonsense plan and would help us avoid default.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that while the Republicans’ preference would still be the Cut, Cap, and Balance legislation that was rejected in the Senate last week, this new proposal “is a well thought-out and reasoned plan, in which no side gets all that they want.”

“We put our plan as to what it is that we want – the Cut, Cap and Balance plan last week. This plan is not that,” Cantor, R-Va., said. “This is a responsible plan that addresses the urgency of trying to make sure we avoid default…[and] sets in motion the process for real cuts so that we can live up to our obligation to the people that sent us here.”

Asked whether he could support an alternative measure packaged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, which includes $2.7 trillion in cuts without raising taxes, the speaker said he believed that Reid’s plan “is full of gimmicks.”

“We’re not making any real changes to the spending structure of our government and it doesn’t deal with the biggest drivers of our deficit and our debt, and that would be entitlement programs,” Boehner said of Reid’s alternative. “It’s time to get serious about solving America’s problems and I believe our plan is a good step in the right direction.”

While the House legislation is being constructed on the principles of the Republicans’ Cut, Cap and Balance act, which was rejected in the Senate late last week, some House Republicans have already come out against the new Boehner proposal and argue it deviates too far from the GOP’s pledge to cut spending.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan thanked Boehner for fighting for Republican principles, but announced he “cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon.”

“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the U.S. will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars,” Jordan, R-Ohio, said. “Washington wants a deal.  Americans want a solution.  The Senate should resume debate on the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, amend it if necessary, and pass it, so we can provide the American people a real solution.”

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a tea party-supported freshman from Kansas, rejected the idea of another deficit commission to develop future savings, stating “America does not need Deficit Commission Version 18.0. America needs the 435 Members of the House and 100 Senators to do their jobs.”

“The House of Representatives has already passed ‘Cut, Cap, Balance,’ a bipartisan approach that ends Washington’s habit of spending and borrowing too much with little regard for paying it back. It’s a plan that forces action NOW, not next month, not next year, not in a decade,” Huelskamp, R-Kansas, said in a statement. “America’s economy and job creators are on shaky ground not because Washington is not borrowing enough, but because it has no plan to deal with overspending.”

Nevertheless, Boehner’s bill is expected to be on the floor of the House for a vote as early as Wednesday. President Obama has announced he will address the nation tonight at 9:00 p.m., while Boehner will deliver a Republican response following the president’s remarks.

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