GOP rejects Dems' plan to cut budget $3T

Oct. 27, 2011 at 2:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Thursday rejected a Democratic plan to cut U.S. debt by $3 trillion because it includes $1.3 trillion in new taxes.

"This is the same number that was in the president's budget, the same number that I don't know if they found any Democrats in the House and Senate to vote for," Boehner told a news conference. "And so, I don't think it's a reasonable number.

"I've had lots of conversations with lots of people trying to ensure that we do in fact get to an outcome. I'm not surprised that we're having some difficulty, because this isn't easy. It's going to be very hard. But I do think it's time for everybody to get serious about it."

The House speaker also said Thursday he thinks President Obama is overstepping constitutional authority by ordering adjustments to student loans and so-called underwater mortgages, The Hill reported.

"I thought we were a nation of laws and that our country was governed by our Constitution," Boehner said on the "Laura Ingraham Show," adding Republicans must keep "a very close eye on the administration to make sure they are following the law and following the Constitution."

On the debt plan offered by Democrats, a GOP aide familiar with the private discussion within the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the supercommittee told the Los Angeles Times, "I don't think it was seen as a serious offer."

"You have to wonder if this is about positioning instead of about moving to resolution," committee member Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., told The Washington Post.

The 10-year debt-reduction plan picks up where President Barack Obama and Boehner broke off this summer during a bitter battle to raise the federal debt limit, congressional aides of both parties familiar with the meeting told several news organizations.

Obama and Boehner discussed a "grand bargain" that included increasing taxes, raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65 and using a less generous measure of inflation to calculate Social Security benefits.

The Democratic plan -- presented by Sen. Max Baucus of Montana four weeks before a deadline for the panel to strike a deal -- includes nearly $500 billion in Medicare and Medicaid cuts, along with higher taxes on the wealthy, mostly by bumping up the high-end tax bracket and limiting deductions for upper-income earners, the aides said.

The plan includes using interest savings to pay for elements of Obama's $447 billion jobs proposal, an idea Republicans have shot down, the Times said.

The supercommittee -- which includes six members from both the House and Senate equally divided by party -- has until Nov. 23 to reach agreement on a proposal to trim borrowing by $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion during the next decade. If it fails to cut at least $1.2 trillion by that date, or if Congress is unable to pass the proposal into law by roughly Christmas, spending cuts of as much as $1.2 trillion would be automatically triggered in January 2013.

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