Obama praises compromise plan

22 Jul

The U.S. House on Tuesday night passed the “cut, cap and balance” deficit reduction plan backed by tea party conservatives but dismissed by President Barack Obama, who offered strong praise for another proposal put together by a bipartisan group of senators.
The so-called Gang of Six plan — drafted by three Democratic and three Republican senators — presents a possible compromise to Obama and congressional leaders as they approach a deadline for a deal on cutting federal deficits in order to gain Republican support for raising the federal debt ceiling to avoid an unprecedented default.
It would cut the nation’s debt by about $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years — similar to the president’s call for roughly $4 trillion in savings.
Obama called the plan by the Gang of Six senators “broadly consistent” with his own approach to the current debt ceiling crisis because it mixes tax changes, entitlement reforms and spending reductions.
However, the top two Democrats in the Senate said they don’t think there is enough time before the government needs to borrow more money on August 2 to pass the comprehensive Gang of Six plan.
Meanwhile, the Republican-led House of Representatives voted 234-190 to pass the “cut, cap and balance” plan that would impose strict caps on all future federal spending while making it significantly tougher to raise taxes — the solution favored by hard-line conservatives.
The vote was almost completely on party lines for the measure that included the requirement that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution before agreeing to extend the federal debt ceiling.
“While President Obama simply talks tough about cutting spending, House Republicans are taking action,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement after the vote.
Boehner called the House measure “exactly the kind of ‘balanced’ approach the White House has asked for — it provides President Obama with the debt limit increase he’s requested while making real spending cuts now and restraining future government spending and debt that are hurting job growth.”
Obama has said he would veto such a measure, and Senate Democrats are expected to kill it. On Tuesday, the president said legislators “don’t have any more time to engage in symbolic gestures” with time running out to raise the debt ceiling in order to avoid default.
“We have a Democratic president and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cuts (and) modifications to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that would strengthen those systems and allow them to move forward, and would include a revenue component,” Obama added. “We now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with that balanced approach. And we’ve got the American people who agree with that balanced approach.”
Obama also refused to rule out the fallback plan proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, that would raise the debt ceiling up to $2.5 trillion through the 2012 election. If Congress fails to raise the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2, Americans could face rising interest rates, a declining dollar and increasingly jittery financial markets, among other things.


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