CBO Scores Boehner’s Plan, Re-write Underway

by Andrew Stiles

Philip Klein examines the Congressional Budget Office’s score of House Speaker John Boehner’s (R., Ohio) deficit plan:

House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt limit will reduce deficits by just $1 billion in 2012 and $851 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The news that the deficit savings are backloaded to occur in years that the current Congress has no control over is likely to increase doubts among House conservatives who were already skeptical about the plan.

In total, the plan would reduce discretionary spending by $695 billion compared to current projections for 2012 through 2021, cut mandatory spending by $20 billion, and save $135 billion in interest payments.

In 2012, the one fiscal year that the current Congress has full control over, discretionary spending is only supposed to go down by $5 billion. Those savings are projected to increase over time reach $112 billion in 2021. But the problem with relying so heavily on discretionary spending cuts rather than structural reforms to mandatory programs is that it’s hard to bind future Congresses’s into meeting the caps.

These numbers don’t exactly inspire confidence, and it will be interesting to see how members react, if any minds are changed. Either way, this score would appear to confirm the narrative that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) at least partially signed off the plan, before the White House rejected it.

Most significantly, the $851 billion in deficit reduction is less than the $1 trillion debt increase authorized in the plan, which is technically a violation of the GOP’s own requirements. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel says the speaker’s staff are currently “looking at option to re-write the legislation to meet our pledge,” adding: “This is what can happen when you have an actual plan and submit it for independent review – which the Democrats who run Washington have refused to do.”