Boehner Misses Cuts Target, Postpones Deficit Vote

House GOP leaders have postponed a vote on a plan to trade more than $1 trillion in spending cuts for an increase in the government's borrowing cap that would be nearly as large.

GOP leaders had promised a vote Wednesday, but Rep. David Dreier of California said Tuesday that the vote was postponed because congressional scorekeepers said the bill won't produce the budget savings promised by House Speaker John Boehner when unveiling it Monday.

Republicans are also struggling to shore up support for the measure among conservatives unhappy over its promised budget cuts.

Dreier said the measure could come to a vote on Thursday after it's modified.

The Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday that Boehner's plan only has about $850 billion in savings over the next 10 years.

GOP leaders met Tuesday night to discuss what to do, and aides said there were two options:

* They could elect to lower the increase of the debt limit extension. Right now the plan is to extend the debt limit by $1 trillion; they could move that to a number under the $850 billion.
* They could elect to cut more, to push the $850 billion number back above $1 trillion.

However, an aide, said, "the former is a lot easier than the latter."

Meanwhile, public head-butting between Democratic President Barack Obama and the Republicans showed no sign of easing. The White House declared Obama would veto the Boehner bill, even if it somehow got through the House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

For all that, it was the tea party-backed members of Boehner's own party who continued to vex him and heavily influence the debt and deficit negotiating terms — not to mention his chances of holding on to the speakership.

Their adamant opposition to any tax increases forced Boehner to back away from a "grand bargain" with Obama that might have made dramatic cuts in government spending. Yet when Boehner turned this week to a more modest cost-cutting plan, with no tax increases, many conservatives balked again. They said the proposal lacked the more potent tools they seek, such as a constitutional mandate for balanced budgets.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, chairman of a large group of conservative Republicans, sent a tremor through the Capitol Tuesday when he said he doubted Boehner had enough support to pass his plan. The Boehner bill would provide an immediate debt ceiling increase but would require further action before the 2012 elections.

Obama strongly opposes that last requirement, arguing that it would reopen the delicate and crucial debt discussions to unending political pressure during next year's campaigns.

The president supports a separate bill, pushed by Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Democratic-controlled Senate, that would raise the debt ceiling enough to tide the government over through next year — and the elections.

Boehner wasn't helped by an official congressional analysis late Tuesday that said his plan would produce smaller savings than originally promised. Of particular embarrassment was a Congressional Budget office finding that Boehner's measure would cut the deficit by just $1 billion next year.

Boehner's office said it would rewrite the legislation to make sure the spending cuts exceed the amount the debt limit would be raised. Adding a political touch, it accused the Democrats of declining to put forward specifics subject to the same sort of review.

Earlier, responding to the conservative Republican opposition, Boehner quickly went on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, then he began one-on-one chats with wavering Republicans on the House floor during midday roll call votes.

"He has to convince a few people," Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., observed dryly from a doorway.

A serious, almost dire urgency ran through Boehner's efforts. The clock was ticking down to next Tuesday's deadline to continue the government's borrowing powers and avert possible defaults on U.S. loans.

Congressional veterans say a final-hour bargain can't be reached until both parties irrefutably prove to themselves and the public that neither the Democrats' top goals nor the Republicans' can be reached in the divided Congress.

Moreover, Boehner's grasp on the speakership could be weakened if he fails to pass the debt-ceiling plan that bears his name. Assuming no more than five Democrats support the measure — the same number that backed a GOP balanced-budget bill last week — Boehner can afford to lose no more than 28 of the House's 240 Republicans.

His allies predicted he'll make it, and Boehner got a vocal endorsement from his sometimes rival, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. But holdouts were not limited to the much-discussed freshman class, elected in the tea party-fueled 2010 elections.

"He can't get my vote because I felt like that, for long-term solutions to this problem, all these promises we make in cutting spending never seem to occur," said Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga. " I've been here nine years and I've never seen it happen yet."

Six-term Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a long-time critic of deficit spending, said he also was leaning against Boehner's bill even though he knows a tougher measure cannot be enacted. "Obviously you have to weigh that against passing something that just doesn't solve the problem," Flake said.

Major business groups weighed in. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged support of Boehner's bill, while the conservative Club for Growth denounced it as too weak.

While Boehner searched for votes, some Americans seemed to edge closer to notion that the Aug. 2 deadline might pass without a solution. The stock market fell again, although not dramatically. California planned to borrow about $5 billion from private investors as a hedge against a possible federal government default.

The White House spoke with veterans groups about what might happen to vets' benefits if a deal isn't reached. Obama has said he can't guarantee Social Security checks and payments to veterans and the disabled would go out on schedule.

The Senate worked on other issues, waiting to see if Boehner's bill would pass the House and come its way. Reid, D-Nev., said the Boehner bill could not pass his chamber.

Reid has his own plan. Like Boehner's, it would identify about $1.2 trillion in spending cuts to the day-to-day operating budgets of government agencies. Reid's proposal, however, would require only one congressional vote to raise the debt ceiling before the 2012 elections. And it counts an extra $1 trillion in savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Both proposals would create a bipartisan congressional commission to identify further deficit reductions, especially in major health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

For seven months, tea party-backed House members — freshmen and veterans alike —have rewritten congressional traditions. Speakers typically can twist arms, offer favors and issue veiled threats to round up the needed support on tough votes. It's possible Boehner will be able to do so on the debt-ceiling matter.

But many tea party activists abhor political compromise. They insist that their elected officials stand on principle, regardless of the consequences.

"A lot of the tea party guys owe certain support groups," said Rep. Walter Jones Jr., R-N.C. He said he had not decided how to vote on Boehner's bill.

Freshman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., bristles at the notion that tea party-influenced newcomers are sheep-like ideologues willing to risk default. "We're not a bunch of knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing Neanderthals," Gowdy said. "We're interested in answering what we perceive to be the mandate, which is to stop the spending and change the way Washington handles money."

Gowdy said he was leaning against Boehner's proposal.

But freshman Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., a tea party favorite, felt otherwise.

"This Boehner plan, does it have everything that I want in it?" West said. "Absolutely not. It is the 70-75 percent plan that we can go forward with."

Petri, a 33-year House veteran, said Boehner may need the votes of 35 to 40 Democrats, which Democratic leaders say is impossible.

Asked how Boehner will get out of his predicament, Petri paused and said: "When I think of it, I'll give him a call."

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  • by Pappy Location: New Jersey on Jul 29, 2011 at 09:31 PM
    G W Bush said and did stop playing Golf after 9 - 11 and he did. Why he said " America was it war. " Obama don't care about American's at war today he just goes Golfing around the world all the time thanks to us tax payers we pay for his every Golf Game. Is Michelle going to Spain beaches this year like last year with her 40 or so friends? On America's credit card?
  • by History Student Location: NC on Jul 29, 2011 at 02:27 PM
    Rebuttal to Loop holes Location: enc on Jul 29, 2011 at 03:07 PM - Nov. 1010 the people called on the fiscally responsible in the GOP to make a clean break from the “dumb ol’ boy” Obama Democrats & past Republican school in Washington. Stop the back-room deals and pay-offs and return government to the people instead of the lobbyists and unions. The GOP freshmen have the opportunity to be heroic statesmen and not footnotes in the history books. Footnotes that detail the financial destruction of the greatest wealth-creating machine the world has ever known
  • by Loop holes Location: enc on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:07 PM
    Apple has billions of dollars in accounts in such countries as Ireland and the Netherlands. They are presently lobbying our Gov.-with the help of the GOP-to let them bring in 1.2 Trillion tax free! It will cost us $4 Billion dollars. All this protection so maybe, just maybe they will employ some Americans at minimum wage. If that doesn't work, maybe the GOP can get minimum wage thrown out so we can make even more profit for Apple! Today, it is reported that Apple has more cash on hand than the US government. I say let them pay their taxes! Obviously they aren't hiring now-and haven't for 10 years! These are the people that the GOP and the TP is willing to save while people on SS and in the military go without their pay checks. They should be ashamed!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 29, 2011 at 01:49 PM in reply to Loop holes
      Definitely over simplified regarding the GOP & TP stance on Loop Holes. But to listen to anything completely in order to form and base an objective opinion is too, geez, maybe balanced and fair. It's just so convenient to listen to the first thing you see & hear and go from there.
    • reply
      by Invester on Jul 29, 2011 at 08:58 PM in reply to Loop holes
      Seems like Loop Holes never bought a Stock? You should be ashamed you did not get a company divedends this year. I got many from good companies. Loop holes how are you going to get rich if you do not invest your money? Apple is a good company
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:05 PM
    This must be one of the saddest times in American political history. Even putting politiics aside between the Democrats & Republicans -- Barack Obama and who cares if he is white,black,green or blue! He has proven he is without any value. At this point, he in nothing more than someone who lives in the White House. He has not submitted any type of budget or plan with the exception of the one that was voted down 97-0 in the Senate , and is devoid of any knowledge of what to do to solve America’s economic problems. Obama has possibly brought the United States down financially to where we may never recover. All the socialist dung he’s been taught all his pathetic, non-productive life have failed when they sounded so good in the classrooms at Columbia and Harvard! He has learned what every other socialist learns .Karl Marx has deceived him
    • reply
      by Lavon on Jul 29, 2011 at 01:09 PM in reply to Wolfgang
      At first you say put politics aside and then you comence to butchering the President and said nothing abiut the Republicans. BAHAHAHAAAAAA!! Dude you are a joke!
      • reply
        by Angus on Jul 29, 2011 at 05:35 PM in reply to Lavon
        Lavon calls telling the truth about Obama butchering? What happened Lavon? you use to call us racist if we told the truth about your Golfer in Chief.
    • reply
      by To Wolfgang on Jul 29, 2011 at 05:47 PM in reply to Wolfgang
      Who walked out? Negotiators do not write "final copies" as they work out agreements! Why should there be a "written plan" from Obama when the GOP leader told him up front "I can't get the TP to pass it"? It would have been a waste of time and paper, just like the bill Boehner just passed to the Senate! Does "common sense" mean anything to you? Yeah, now sling "Karl Marx"-the GOP is worshipping at the feet of Ayn Rand-not the Dems!
  • by TP's Location: enc on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:47 AM
    So, Walsh thinks Obama doesn't know how to budget? Well maybe Walsh needs to give lessons on hiding funds, taking a girl-friend to Europe while not paying his child support! A dead-beat dad has the nerve to argue over being fiscally responsible? That's kinds like Bachmann taking out a home loan with the backing of Fannie/Freddie-Oh, that' right-she did!
  • by Holland Location: Washington - NC on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM
    Now is the time the so-called “Tea Party” Congressmen and Senators need to break away from the RINO's ' Republicans In Name Only ' establishment and create their own plan that does what Americans sent them to do: eliminate the deficit! The federal government grows annually by built-in baseline budgets that grant an automatic 3-10% increase in federal budgets. It is time to stop this madness and start reducing budgets as it is done in the private sector. We do not want a decrease in additional spending, we demand drastic reductions in current spending levels in the federal government. The freshmen Republicans should hold on to their votes and prohibit the Boehner plan from passing. Harry Reid has already said the Boehner plan is dead on arrival in the Dem controlled Senate. So the GOP freshmen should present a plan that, at the very least, holds spending at current levels and does not grant a debt limit increase. Let Obama and the Dems decide what must be cut. They wanted to lead, let them lead! Social Security by law must be paid on time. So must our national debt. There is money for both as well as funds to pay for the military. After that, let Obama decide what to cut.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 29, 2011 at 01:55 PM in reply to Holland
      Holland, what you say is correct and sound! But the posters on this site don't want to hear or see anything TP related. The Pres, The Press, & Reid have successfully poisoned the minds of people disabling their abilities to see clearly or should I say hear clearly.
  • by To Walter Location: enc on Jul 29, 2011 at 08:04 AM
    First, the debt ceiling is NOT the same as a budget! It pays the bills that past budgets have accrued! Second, it doesn't matter how many "plans" you have if you can't get them passed. The Reid bill will probably pass the Senate and reach the House before Boehner can even get his out of the House. Then, it will be up to the House to either save us or destroy us! There will not be enought time for them to do anything else except a "clean-one sentence" bill to raise-the way it was done with BUSH!!!
  • by Politics? Location: enc on Jul 29, 2011 at 07:46 AM
    When Boehner is removed and Cantor takes over-even the dumbest American will see what this was all about-power in the GOP is more important than the American people. It will happen. To Walter-Do you really think people are going to vote for people they fear? I hope you are right because we need to be afraid of the Tea Party-they are trying to tear down the greatest country in the world!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:36 AM in reply to Politics?
      Seriously clueless!
  • by Voter remorse Location: enc on Jul 29, 2011 at 07:41 AM
    Keep your eye on Wisconsin!
  • by Walter Location: NC on Jul 28, 2011 at 08:32 PM
    Fear the Tea Party! There is little doubt now that the tea party has changed the entire Washington political dynamic! And now the Republicans as well as the pathetic socialists in the Democrat party are quaking in fear of the growing power of ordinary American citizens ' Nov 1010 ' who have banded together to say “no more!” to the fiscal insanity that has controlled Washington for far too long! Speaker Boehner is crying over the fact that he cannot muster sufficient votes from the House Republicans to pass a plan to raise the debt limit. At least he has submitted a plan, unlike our Golfer in Chief! The Dems have not submitted a budget in over 820 days yet want us to give them another $2 trillion to “spread around.” Right
    • reply
      by AMD on Jul 29, 2011 at 03:36 AM in reply to Walter
      The liberals on this site refuse to see it that way though. The Democrats controlled Congress when the budget was originally due but did not even submit a budget because they did not want the voters to be able to use that against them when the elections rolled around. They were more worried about keeping their jobs than they were about doing their jobs. Its a good thing the Republicans won in November, otherwise who would the Democrats be able to blame all of this on?
      • reply
        by To AMD on Jul 29, 2011 at 07:48 AM in reply to AMD
        Liberals? Maybe you should find out who is coming out against the Tea Party's position. It isn't just liberals!
      • reply
        by To AMD on Jul 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM in reply to AMD
        This isn't the budget!!! This is the debt ceiling! They are two different things. What can't you Reps. understand that? Oh, that's right-you don't like education!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:05 PM in reply to To AMD
    • reply
      by and... on Jul 29, 2011 at 05:31 AM in reply to Walter
      I think if this keeps up we are gonna see boehner cry on national tv again. Ah the Tea party , first destroy the GoP and next the country.
    • reply
      by Lavon on Jul 29, 2011 at 07:09 AM in reply to Walter
      Yeap and that's the reason why your behinds are going to lose next year. Your not hurting the Democrats, your hurting the Republicans chances at winning next year and you can't even see it. I think the Tea Party should keep up the good work.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Jul 29, 2011 at 09:43 AM in reply to Lavon
        Agree Lavon, I hope the tea party finishes off the dnc like they did in the last election. Also Rinos...That is why you side hates them so much as they actually represent working people and not your eltitist idiots.
        • reply
          by Lavon on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:44 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil co
          Snake Oil- Why don't you go find the rest of your Tea Bagger friends and sit on the porch like you've been doing
    • reply
      by What good on Jul 29, 2011 at 07:32 AM in reply to Walter
      What good is his plan when he can't get it passed? The Dems. see no point in "publishing" the rought draft (know what that is?) and wasting more time and money on bills that will not pass. It's called common sense!
    • reply
      by To Walter on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM in reply to Walter
      Dont' worry, I am afraid of them. They are wing nuts!

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