CBO: Democrats’ debt bill tops GOP’s in spending cuts

The Senate Democratic debt-limit bill would cut future spending by $2.2 trillion over 10 years — much deeper than the House GOP alternative, according to figures Congress’ chief scorekeeper released early Wednesday.

The Congressional Budget Office said the plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would raise the government’s borrowing limit by $2.7 trillion, and cut $2.2 trillion from future spending, chiefly by limiting the amount of money spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

House Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan, meanwhile, would produce just $850 billion in savings, versus $900 billion in new debt authority, according to a CBO analysis released late Tuesday. That sent the Ohio Republican back to the drawing board to rewrite his bill to try to meet his own pledge of topping any debt increase dollar-for-dollar with new spending cuts.

The CBO analysis could give momentum to Mr. Reid’s plan, though the GOP says spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was going to drop anyway, and so shouldn’t be considered as future savings.

A Boehner aide said CBO also added in savings from future interest payments that would no longer need to be made on that “phantom” war-spending reduction.

And the aide said Mr. Reid’s bill now violates the dollar-for-dollar goal Mr. Boehner laid out and that Mr. Reid said he accepted. CBO’s score shows that even including the war cost reductions, the cuts fall half a trillion dollars short of the $2.7 trillion debt increase.

The CBO said the Senate bill’s discretionary spending cuts would result in $840 billion in lower authorized spending, and $750 billion in actual lower outlays over the next decade. The Senate bill also capped spending on the two wars at $450 billion over the next decade, which would mean spending authority is $1.2 trillion lower, and actual outlays would be $1 trillion lower.

The House Republican plan, by contrast, resulted in $840 billion in lower authorized spending and $710 in actual lower outlays, all from discretionary spending limits.

Meanwhile, after seeing their spending cuts come in lower than they had expected, House Republicans canceled a vote on their bill, slated for Wednesday, and said they would rework the plan.

“We’re here to change Washington — no more smoke and mirrors, no more ‘phantom cuts,’” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. “We promised that we will cut spending more than we increase the debt limit, with no tax hikes, and we will keep that promise.”

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