On Friday, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly for a plan that would raise the debt limit a whopping $2.5 trillion. All but 22 members, including many stalwart conservatives, supported the bill because they were promised that the second installment of the debt limit increase ($1.6 trillion) would only be approved under two conditions: 1) A debt commission identifies at least $1.6 trillion in spending cuts. 2) Congress (both houses) passes a balanced budget amendment (BBA) and sends it to the states for ratification.
While it is hard to imagine that GOP leaders would suddenly have the courage to hold firm on a BBA next year, after punting on it this year, most rank-and-file members felt compelled to trust their leaders.
While it is credulous to believe that a Simpson-Bowles 2.0 commission would force passage of massive entitlement reform without tax hikes – and that leadership would go to the brink for such cuts; nonetheless, conservative House members got their rumps behind Boehner's line. They swallowed their pride, endured much acrimony, and took one for the team.
Now it's time for Boehner to hold his own line and not leave his men in the field. Presumably, at the very least, he would not agree to any increase that overshoots the elections, and that terminates the requirement of a BBA as a precondition for such an increase.
Accordingly, any outline of the following plan being reported by ABC should be dead on arrival:
ABC News has learned that Republicans and the White House have struck a tentative deal to raise the debt ceiling before the Aug. 2 deadline. It's not done yet, but here is the framework of the tentative deal they have worked out, according to a source familiar with the negotiations:
- Debt ceiling increase of up to $2.8 trillion
- Spending cuts of roughly $1 trillion
- Vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment
- Special committee to recommend cuts of $1.8 trillion (or whatever it takes to add up to the total of the debt ceiling increase)
- Committee must make recommendations before Thanksgiving recess
- If Congress does not approve those cuts by late December, automatic across-the-board cuts go into effect, including cuts to Defense and Medicare. (emphasis added)