House GOP readies ‘cut, cap, balance’ plan

July 19, 2011

By Sean Lengell-The Washington Times

House Republicans are prepared for a Tuesday vote on their signature debt-reduction plan that calls for a balanced-budget constitutional amendment, despite Democratic opposition and a White House veto threat.

Meanwhile, Senate party leaders said Monday they will keep their members in session every day – including weekends – until they agree to a compromise to increase the nation’s $14.29 trillion debt ceiling.

The House Republicans’ “cut, cap and balance” plan would raise the debt ceiling $2.4 trillion, but only after significant and immediate spending cuts and the adoption by Congress of a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

The measure is expected to pass the GOP-dominated House but stall in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

It’s “a common-sense proposal that will cut and cap federal spending to ensure that Washington begins to live within its means,” said HouseMajority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

The plan proposes $111 billion in cuts to the $3.6 trillion the federal government is projected to spend next year. About two-thirds of the cuts would come from department and agency budgets, with about one-third from automatically paid benefits – though Congress would have discretion on which programs to cut. Spending for defense, homeland security, military veterans, Medicare and Social Security would be exempted from the cuts.

The plan calls for a gradual decrease, or “cap,” in federal spending during the next decade – from 22.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) next year to 19.9 percent in 2021.

The measure also would require Congress to balance the federal budget every year, permanently cap government spending at 18 percent of GDP after a phase-in period and require a two-thirds vote of the House andSenate to increase taxes.

The Republicans’ proposed $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling is far less than the $4 trillion hike pushed by the administration.

White House press secretary Jay Carney derisively referred to theHouseGOP plan as “duck, dodge and dismantle,” saying it would lead to cuts in entitlement programs for seniors, middle-income Americans and the nation’s most vulnerable.

“What we are witnessing here with this measure is classic Washington posturing – Kabuki theater,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney during his Monday briefing with reporters. “It would essentially require the dismantlement of our social safety net – Social Security,Medicare and Medicaid.”

Mr. Carney said the president would veto the measure if it passedCongress.

HouseGOP leaders quickly shot back, with House Speaker John A. Boehner calling Mr. Obama’s veto threat “disappointing.”

“This unfortunate veto threat should make clear that the issue is not congressional inaction, but rather the president’s unwillingness to cut spending and restrain the future growth of our government,” the Ohio Republican said.

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