More details are starting to leak out about House Speaker John Boehner's debt limit proposal. You can read more at Fox, but the basic gist is that it would set up a two step process -- starting with $1.2 trillion in cuts for a $1 trillion debt limit increase, and then creating a commission for an additional $1.6 trillion in cuts for another $1.4 trillion increase. It also includes the opportunity to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment.
Here's my quick take on the elements of the proposal.
--Cuts That Exceed The Debt Hike. The framework would cut and cap discretionary spending immediately, saving $1.2 trillion over 10 years (subject to CBO confirmation), and raise the debt ceiling by less - up to $1 trillion.
I'd like to see how many immediate, specific, spending cuts there are in this plan. Spending caps may be a part of an overall strategy for deficit reduction, but they're also another way to kick the can down the road by leaving future Congresses to define what will be cut to meet those caps.
--Caps To Control Future Spending. The framework imposes spending caps that would establish clear limits on future spending and serve as a barrier against government expansion while the economy grows. Failure to remain below these caps will trigger automatic across-the-board cuts (otherwise known as sequestration).
Again, this still leaves it up to future Congresses. I'd like to see what kind of wiggle room future Congresses would have to get around those automatic cuts.
--Balanced Budget Amendment. The framework advances the cause of the Balanced Budget Amendment by requiring the House and Senate to vote on the measure after October 1, 2011 but before the end of the year, allowing the American people time to build sufficient support for this popular reform.
Don't really see what a vote would accomplish. It wouldn't have near two-thirds support in either chamber of Congress. And Republicans already forced a vote on it in both the House and Senate as part of Cut, Cap and Balance. So they already have a vote they can hold against Democrats. Also, Boehner can hold a vote in the House whenever they want.
--Entitlement Reforms & Savings. The framework creates a Joint Committee of Congress that is required to report legislation that would produce a proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.8 trillion over 10 years. Each Chamber would consider the proposal of the Joint Committee on an up-or-down basis without any amendments. If the proposal is enacted, then the President would be authorized to request a debt limit increase of $1.6 trillion.
The key part of this language is "to reduce the deficit," rather than, "to cut spending." While Boehner says his plan contains no tax increases, as Conn Carroll noted earlier, this commission could have the unintended consequence of fast-tracking a "Gang of Six"-type plan that hikes taxes.