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Hoyer to Lay Out Fiscal Policy Proposals in Speech

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Correction Appended

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer will lay down his marker in the upcoming debt limit debate in a speech before the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday.

According to prepared remarks, the Maryland Democrat plans to call for upholding entitlement programs, cutting spending on domestic and defense programs, and enacting a trigger for automatic spending cuts and revenue raisers aimed at reducing the deficit. On the revenue side, he will propose broadening the tax base, closing tax loopholes and simplifying the income tax code.

Continuing on a message carried by scores of Democrats over the past several weeks, Hoyer will also hit Republicans for demanding significant cuts to Medicare and tax cuts for wealthy Americans in order to rescue the nation’s economy.

“It’s an incredible sleight of hand to suggest that our choices are between the Republican plan and nothing — as if giving in to their ransom demands, and then implementing a plan for more inequality and the end of Medicare as we know it, is the only option left to stave off disaster,” Hoyer plans to say, according to the prepared remarks obtained by Roll Call.

The speech comes as both parties are grappling with how to garner a majority of votes in both chambers to increase the debt ceiling before Aug. 2, the date Treasury Department officials project the government will begin defaulting on its loans. The government officially hit the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling May 16.

Hoyer, a fiscal conservative with ties to the moderate wing of his party, will call for bipartisanship and continued negotiation over the next few weeks. His speech — which will reflect on fiscal debates in Washington during Presidents Ronald Reagan’s, Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations — comes two weeks after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Economic Club of New York that House Republicans would not agree to increase the debt ceiling unless Democrats and the White House accept spending cuts that exceed the increase in the nation’s debt limit. Hoyer plans to argue that cuts need to be made but that further tax cuts for wealthy Americans are all but a non-starter.

“Speaker Boehner’s demand is $2 trillion in unspecified cuts. But at the same time, he and the Republican Party support tax cuts that will cost twice as much over the next decade,” Hoyer plans to say. “These demands, for which Republicans are threatening to wreck the American and global economies, are driven not by fiscal reality, but by an ideology that has guided them for at least 30 years.”

Hoyer has said he wants Congress to enact a debt limit that will push the issue past the 2012 elections, a demand that Capitol Hill observers predict is a tall order for Republicans who see political gain in forcing multiple votes on the issue. Hoyer has also repeatedly called for a “clean” debt limit vote that is not tied to other fiscal demands, but that request is also likely to go unmet.

In a letter he sent to Boehner last month, Hoyer said he wanted to be part of bipartisan talks on raising the debt limit. In an interview last week, Hoyer said he has spoken with GOP leaders about “needing to meet the demands of our fiscal crisis” but said the two parties had not discussed a path forward on the debt limit.

“I think Mr. Boehner believes we need to address this responsibly,” Hoyer said last week. “We all have different views, but ... you have to do it on a bipartisan basis.”

Correction: May 23, 2011

An earlier version of this article said Hoyer would argue that further tax increases for wealthy Americans are a non-starter. It should have said further tax cuts are a non-starter.

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