As bipartisan discussions at the White House take a break for at least one day, House Speaker John Boehner announced that the House will next week take up Cut, Cap and Balance legislation while he continued to call on President Obama to present his plan to solve the debt limit debacle.
“We’re in the 4th quarter here. Time and again Republicans have offered serious proposals to cut spending and address these issues, and I think it’s time for the Democrats to get serious as well,” Boehner said. “We asked the president to lead. We asked him to put forward a plan, not a speech – a real plan, and he hasn’t. We will.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that next week the House will bring forward Cut, Cap and Balance (CCB) legislation to “provide a balanced approach so that we can demonstrate that we are getting things under control.”
According to Republican aides, the bill would cut total spending by $111 billion in FY 2012, breaking down as reducing non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels, which saves $76 billion, cut $35 billion cut to non-veterans, non-Medicare, non-Social Security mandatory spending, and maintain the level of defense spending requested in the president’s FY 2012 budget request.
The legislation would also cap total federal spending by creating a “glide path” that caps spending at 22.5 percent of GDP next year, and gradually decreases spending levels over 10 years levels until locking in at 19.9 percent of GDP in 2021 and beyond.
Finally, the legislation would require that Congress pass a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) and it would need to be sent to the states for ratification before the president’s request for a $2.4 trillion debt limit increase is granted.
“We want to change the system here,” Cantor said. “We want to be able to go home to the people that elected us and show them that we’re not going to allow this kind of spending to continue. We don’t have the money; they don’t have the money. We need to get the economy growing again and to control spending here in Washington.”
Next week the House is also expected to separately consider the BBA, and while all 47 Senate Republicans have co-sponsored a balanced budget amendment, Democrats are strongly opposed to both the BBA and the CCB GOP initiatives.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that what she’s seen of the Cut, Cap and Balance plan is “even worse” than other plans proposed by the GOP as Congressional leaders work to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the administration’s August 2 deadline.
“It’s outrageous,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “As bad as their so-called, and it wasn’t a Balanced Budget Amendment, it was a Trojan horse to bringing the Ryan plan again, this is even worse from what I’ve heard.”
Back to the debt limit negotiations, Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pointed to the House Republicans’ budget as a model for reform, and said they have also focused this year on legislation “that would create jobs by easing the burdens of regulations, expanding exports, and increasing the supply of American energy.”
All year long we’ve led on the big issues that are facing our country. The House-passed budget written by Paul Ryan and the budget committee I think sets the standard for serious debate,” Boehner said. “In the debt limit debate our goals are real simple: No one wants the United States to default on our obligations but we won’t see real economic growth without a serious plan to deal with our deficit and our debt.
“Our stand on the debt limit has been clear: There can be no tax hikes because tax hikes destroy jobs,” Boehner added. “We need real spending cuts and real spending cuts that will exceed the amount of increase in the debt limit. We need real reforms to restrain the growth of spending in future years, spending caps, and like a real balanced budget amendment.”
Lawmakers have just 18 days left to cut a deal before the Treasury department’s deadline to increase the debt limit expires.
“The House put forward its budget, and the House passed its budget. That is our vision, if we were in control of Washington, we would be trying to push our agenda through both Houses and to see if that could be implemented,” Cantor, R-Va., said. “We call for $6.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years. In the current discussions at the White House, the president and the Democrats are offering perhaps $1.5 trillion. The number keeps moving, but perhaps. That’s a big difference.”
Asked whether bringing the cut, cap and balance legislation to the floor signals that he is doubtful the negotiations at the White House would net an agreement, the Speaker suggested that the votes next week would help drive the debate ahead.
“I don’t want to preclude any chance of coming to an agreement, but they’ve been unwilling to put a real plan on the table, and without serious spending cuts, without real reform of our entitlement programs this problem is not going to be solved,” Boehner said. “Listen, the cut cap and balance plan as the House will vote on next week is a solid plan for moving forward. Let’s get through that vote and then we’ll make decisions about what will come after.”
After the House Democratic caucus meeting this morning, Pelosi said the caucus is unanimous in wanting a ‘Grand Bargain’ still, but expressed some measure of doubt, saying that she “hopes” they can get there.
“We stand with the president of the United States in the hope that we could have a Grand Bargain that takes us well into the future with deficit reduction,” she said. “We hope that that can still happen.”
Pelosi said Democrats would not support cuts to the Medicare health plan and Social Security retirement benefits to reduce deficits, but she said they would consider changes to strengthen those programs.
The Democrats also said today that they would support another clean vote on the debt ceiling, if negotiations with the White House fail to producea compromise.
“We continue to encourage our leadership to be there and seek the best possible deal in the fairest American way,” said Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., who chairs the House Democratic Caucus. “Failing that our caucus believes that there should be in lieu of the events that are taking place and unfolding economically around us, a clean vote on the debt ceiling but continue to stay and work on what this caucus believes is the most fundamental thing facing America, and that is job creation.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer noted that almost every Democrat would be in support of a clean vote.
Hoyer, D-Maryland, said it is “too late” to continue to play “partisan games,” and do what the Republicans are doing and “present a bill that we know can’t pass the United States Senate and that the President of the United States would sign.”
“Time is short,” he said sternly. “The stakes are very high.”