Dems banking on lower deficit projection going into hard budget vote

House Democrats planning a tough budget vote this week are banking that this year's deficit to be lower than earlier projections.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the deficit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 would hit a record $1.5 trillion. The Obama administration's own deficit projection was even higher: $1.56 trillion.

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But House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) said the deficit will instead be around $1.3 trillion or $1.4 trillion. That number will be reflected in the "budget enforcement resolution" House leaders may bring to the floor before the July 4 recess, Spratt said in an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers."

The 2010 deficit number is more optimistic because it assumes that tax revenue, depressed last year because of high unemployment and the contracting economy, will increase, he said.

The Democrats' budget document will also set a goal of cutting the deficit in half — to slightly more than $700 billion — by 2015, according to Spratt.

"If we can track that projection and achieve those results, I think we can say we've done what we've set out to do — stayed on the razor's edge, we haven't overdrawn the account, and we've achieved a reasonable goal," Spratt said.

Republicans have dismissed the budget document Spratt is writing as something far less than an actual budget resolution. Unlike recent full-fledged budget resolutions that detail how the majority would reach deficit targets over the next five years, the Democrats’ "budget enforcement resolution" sets targets without spelling out the specific spending and tax policies that will get them there.

House GOP Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the failure to write a budget is evidence of Democrats' failure to govern.

"They have no plan for a budget to address our $13 trillion national debt, no plan to reform Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, no plan to stop the skyrocketing health care costs that ObamaCare will only make worse," he told reporters last week.

Democrats decided against a traditional budget resolution this year, knowing that liberals and conservatives in the caucus were split over whether to increase spending or rein it in and that Republicans were certain to vote against it.

"We had to get a majority of Democrats," Spratt said. "Some would want to do more, some would do less. We had to hit a happy medium."

To pass the budget plan this week, House leaders will have to win support from fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats, who are wary of voting for huge deficits in an election year.

To address those concerns, Spratt's plan seeks to cut 2011 discretionary spending to a level $7 billion below President Barack Obama's proposal. Blue Dogs had pushed for that move in budget talks with House leaders, a Blue Dog aide said.