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Roll Call

Reid to ‘Tweak’ His Debt Measure

Bill Clark/Roll Call

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday he will tweak his deficit reduction bill to provide at least $200 billion in additional savings and dismissed a competing bill offered by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

It is not a solution and it will not pass, Reid said of Boehners bill, which is also getting a face-lift. Every Democratic Senator will vote against it.

Sen. Charles Schumer said Boehner is wasting time on a bill that will never pass the Senate or be signed by the president. The Speakers plan is on life support, and its time for him to pull the plug, the New York Democrat said.

Reid said he would add minor tweaks to his plan to find the additional savings or spending cuts after a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Wednesday morning found that his bill fell $500 billion short of the $2.7 trillion advertised.

Reid said he would find at least $2.4 trillion in spending cuts, enough for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling so that his bill would meet at least the letter of Boehners demand for any debt limit increase to be coupled with an equal amount of deficit reduction.

Reids $2.4 trillion target is the debt limit increase needed to get the country through the end of 2012 a key demand of Democrats and President Barack Obama. But Boehners bill includes only enough of a debt ceiling hike to last until sometime early next year.

The CBO report was a mixed bag for Reid; while it found his cuts wanting, the CBO said his plan would cut the deficit deeper and faster than Boehners bill. The Speaker is also rewriting his measure after getting a CBO score that found him falling short of his deficit reduction goals.

The CBO found that Reids plan would slice the deficit by $2.2 trillion over a decade with more than half of that coming from assumptions that the United States will save money by winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The GOP has ridiculed using that presumed savings as a budget gimmick. Democrats note that House Republicans used similar assumptions for the wars in the budget they passed earlier this year.

Still, even without assumed savings from the wars, Reids bill cuts significantly more than Boehners and does it significantly faster, the CBO analysis showed. Before savings on interest on the debt, the discretionary spending caps in Reids plan cut $751 billion over the next decade versus $710 billion in Boehners original bill.

And in the first two years, Reids bill shrinks the deficit by $129 billion versus $17 billion for Boehners plan. Even without the war funding, Reids bill would slice the deficit by about $58 billion in the first two years more than three times Boehners savings.

A Boehner spokesman said the CBO report shows Reids bill includes a grab bag of gimmicks and would include deep defense cuts that would hurt our men and women in uniform.

We have made a promise to cut spending more than we increase the debt limit, and we are revising our legislation to ensure this pledge is met, the spokesman said.

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