Jul 20, 2011 Comments Off Pat Dollard
Related: Coburn Abandons Own Plan, Throws Support Behind Obama’s “Big Deal”, Probably Ensuring Obama’s Re-Election
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan Senate plan — which in a span of 24 hours has emerged as the leading proposal to lift lawmakers out of their debt-ceiling quagmire — is now running into doubts about whether there’s enough time or consensus to move forward on it.
Members of both parties made clear Wednesday that they weren’t yet sold on the idea put forth by the “Gang of Six” to curb spending even though aides reported that 30 senators had signed on already.
Some Republicans claimed to be holding out hope for the plan they passed out of the House Tuesday evening to cut and cap federal spending and push a balanced-budget amendment in exchange for a debt-ceiling increase.
“In case Senator Reid didn’t notice, a bipartisan ‘Gang of 234′ just sent him the way forward,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said in reference to the House bill vote. “This is the only plan that can fundamentally solve our debt problem.”
Given that Democrats are vowing to kill that bill in the Senate, President Obama on Tuesday touted the “Gang of Six” plan as a possible savior for deadlocked members of Congress. But he acknowledged that a “broader agreement” would be needed to pass something out of both chambers.
Republicans quickly pointed out their concerns with a component of the plan that calls for about $1 trillion in additional revenue over 10 years. While saying the proposal contains some “constructive ideas,” House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said he’s worried about that “revenue target” and how it would be reached.
“I continue to caution that a tax increase is the wrong policy to pursue with so many Americans out of work,” he said in a statement.
His office said in its daily email Wednesday that the plan also “does not significantly address” entitlement programs.
Others expressed frustration that yet another “gang” of select lawmakers was assuming the lead role in navigating a legislative problem.
“We are an anti-gang group. We are trying to suppress the growth of gangs,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said Wednesday.
Cantor and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi both pointed out the more practical concern that the plan is still too fuzzy to gauge.
“How can (Pelosi) ask anyone to do anything if the bill is not ready?” Pelosi spokesman Nadeam Elshami said in a statement, summing up the California Democrat’s stance on the bill for the moment. Pelosi, like Cantor, said the plan contains “good principles.”
The proposal is likely too complex for bill-writers to be able to put all the language to paper in time to have it voted on by Aug. 2 — the date by which the administration says Congress must raise the debt ceiling or face a potential fiscal crisis.
Rather, some lawmakers are looking to build off the plan, which aims for $3.7 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, in striking a deal that can be written and approved by early August.
Going in their favor is the fact that some Senate Republicans and Democrats are working together on the concept, giving and taking in a way that is not happening on the House side.
In the other chamber, House Republicans on Tuesday approved a plan to cut and cap federal spending and require Congress to approve a balanced-budget amendment in order to clear a debt-ceiling increase. Democrats loathe that plan and say it will die in the Senate.
While some outside the “gang” are hesitant to embrace the Senate blueprint, the authors are trying to win over their colleagues.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the Senate Budget Committee chairman, claimed the plan would “actually reduce tax rates” once all the changes are made. Though the plan would seek to raise revenue, Conrad said it would do so by broadening the tax base and reducing exemptions and credits.