What would the Boehner Plan achieve?

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Earlier today, I had the privilege of participating in a teleconference, along with a half-dozen other Tulsa area activists, with Oklahoma 1st District Congressman John Sullivan and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan regarding House Speaker John Boehner's proposal (officially known as the Budget Control Act of 2011) for raising the debt ceiling and cutting and capping projected discretionary outlays over the next 10 years. While I disagree with the decision Ryan and Sullivan have made to support Boehner's "two-step" plan, I appreciate them taking the time to explain their reasons.

House Republicans had passed an earlier plan called "Cut, Cap, and Balance." The bill failed in the Senate on a party line vote. CC&B would have cut $111 billion in FY 2012, placed enforceable caps on future discretionary spending, and would have required passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment by Congress (sending it to the states for approval) prior to an increase in the debt ceiling. The Senate turned CC&B down on a party line vote.

The Boehner Plan doesn't include tax increases, but it's possible (some think likely) that the commission created by the plan would propose tax increases. Assume the six Democrats on the commission are all supportive of tax hikes; all it would take is one RINO squish to give tax hikers a majority, and it seems likely to me that Mitch McConnell would feel obliged to include at least one squishy GOP senator on the commission.

The Boehner Plan (version 1.0.1) cuts $22 billion in FY 2012 and a total of $915 billion over 10 years, raises the debt ceiling by $900 billion, and provides for a commission of 12 (six from each party, six from each House) to recommend further cuts of at least $1.8 trillion. The commission's proposal would be fast-tracked for votes and would be unamendable. The Balanced Budget Amendment would come up for a vote in each chamber, but wouldn't have to pass.

(By the way, we are speaking Intraviazonian here, so "cut" doesn't mean spending less money next year than we spent this year. It means not spending as much next year as the most recent budget plan had projected.)

My takeaway from the conversation with the congressmen is that, while the Boehner Plan does not do as much to cut spending, they believe it has a chance to pass the Senate. Although Senate Democrats have announced they won't vote for the Boehner Plan, supporters in the House think they're bluffing. If the Boehner Plan fails in the House, they believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan (almost certain to include tax hikes) will have enough momentum to pass the Senate and get enough squishy House Republicans to back it.

While the Boehner Plan would be better than a Reid or Obama alternative, I don't believe it will pass the Senate, and I don't believe that somehow the mainstream-media-informed public will attach the blame for the failure on the President or Senate Democrats. My guess is that the Reid plan will pass the Senate but won't prevail in the House, and the Boehner plan, if it passes the House, wlll get stuck in the Senate. In that stalemate, the Boehner plan, not the tougher CC&B, will become the starting point in negotiations.

Conservatives may as well be bold on the budget, because they'll be savaged by the media regardless.

Given all that, how does it help the cause of deficit reduction to concede so much before the other side has even brought a plan to the negotiating table? As I tweeted during the teleconference, the strategery escapes me.

What bothers me most about the Boehner Plan is that it doesn't cut spending in any way that you and I would understand the term. Discretionary spending remains and grows from its bloated stimulus levels.

They say it's the best deal we can get. I say it seems unlikely we can get the deal, so why not stick to a proposal like CC&B with bipartisan support in the House and widespread support around the country?

MORE: John Sullivan's detailed rationale for supporting the Boehner Plan.

Dean Clancy of Freedom Works provides the top 10 reasons to support Cut, Cap, and Balance over the Boehner Plan.

Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute shows how spending will continue to grow under the Boehner Plan

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1 Comments

Roy said:

Phants blinked. Caved in to get nothing but promises worth nothing more than hot air.

Balanced budget amend? 1)Not gonna happen. Air. 2) Worth nothing even if it did. Present situation proof.

Shoulda called prez' bluff. Instead of running scared that Phants would get blamed for disaster, show understanding. 1) What disaster actually would have happened? 2) To extent it might have, why not show who really caused it? Make public case? Not as if libertarian/conservatives don't have a case.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 29, 2011 12:35 AM.

John Sullivan's rationale for the Boehner Plan, plus Q&A was the previous entry in this blog.

Sullivan on Boehner Plan plus Balanced Budget Amendment is the next entry in this blog.

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