Just days from a potential default, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) this afternoon rejected Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) plan for raising the debt ceiling, saying he can’t support any plan that doesn’t cut entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Reid’s plan, just hours old when Boehner aimed to kill it, essentially called the GOP’s bluff, giving them exactly what they have been asking for all along — spending cuts matching the increase in the debt ceiling and no new revenues.
The White House had already signed onto Reid’s conservative plan, making it the best hope of averting a crisis since Boehner walked out of negotiations Friday. “This is an offer that Republicans can’t refuse,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).
Apparently not. The Reid plan “makes no changes to the biggest drivers of our deficit and our debt and that would be entitlement programs,” Boehner said at a late afternoon press conference, flanked by other GOP leaders. This demand seemed to be a brazen moving of the goal posts, as entitlement cuts never appeared to be red-line demand for Republicans for raising the debt ceiling.
Boehner put forward his own debt plan this afternoon, which presumably would address his newly discovered demand. But Boehner’s office told staff members of his own caucus that his plan wouldn’t touch Social Security, Medicare, or the Affordable Care Act. RedState blogger Erik Erickson — who has been fielding calls for “absolution” from GOP members all day — obtained “bullet points from one of the individuals who got briefed at the staff level on John Boehner’s proposal” that make this very clear:
In a way, this makes sense, as the Boehner and Reid plans have nearly identical methods for making entitlement reforms — a 12 member committee to make deficit reduction proposals. From a fact sheet on Reid’s plan:
Establishes Joint Congressional Committee to Find Future Savings. In addition to $2.7 trillion in concrete savings, the Senate package will establish a joint, bipartisan committee, made up of 12 members, to present options for future deficit reduction.
From a fact sheet on Boehner’s plan:
The framework creates a Joint Committee of Congress that is required to report legislation – by November 23, 2011 – that would produce a proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.8 trillion over 10 years. The committee would be made up of 12 members, three each appointed by the Speaker, House Minority Leader, Senator Majority leader and Senate Minority Leader.
It’s beyond troubling when, just eight days from a potential default, the Speaker of the House is rejecting plans he apparently can’t accurately characterize based on demands that didn’t exist just days earlier.