New deficit plan to be unveiled day after the November elections

A major deficit-reduction plan “is written” and will be unveiled the day after the November elections, the leader of a bipartisan group advocating a grand bargain said Thursday.

Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio), the centrist Republican who announced his retirement on Tuesday, said that a coalition of lawmakers and outside fiscal groups has drafted legislation that would reduce the deficit by $5 trillion or more over 10 years. 

“The day after the election you will see a piece of legislation that the leaders of this country can sign on to,” LaTourette said at a press conference outside the Capitol. 

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The bill, he said, would be a more ambitious version of the Simpson-Bowles plan that emerged from President Obama’s debt commission in late 2010. While that plan called for $4 trillion in deficit reduction through a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and revenue increases, the new version — which LaTourette dubbed “Simpson-Bowles Plus” — would contain more significant changes to Medicare. 

“I will tell you it’s written,” LaTourette said. “It will be ready to be dropped.”

The Ohio Republican said that while he and other centrist members would like to unveil the plan now, they are withholding it because they know it would not be viable in the heat of the election campaign, when both parties are seeking to define a sharp contrast in fiscal visions. “We have to be considerate of our colleagues who say, ‘Not before November 6,’ ” LaTourette said. The dynamic would shift as soon as the election is over, he argued. 

LaTourette and Reps. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) held a press conference to call for action on the so-called “fiscal cliff” before the November election. Lipinski quipped that the event was the second day of the “wake” for LaTourette, who cited a lack of bipartisan comity as one reason for his retirement. LaTourette joked that it was Day 2 of his “unchained tour.”

The lawmakers have been backers of a deficit grand bargain for more than a year, and say a plan modeled on Simpson-Bowles is the only way Congress can deal with the litany of provisions piling up at year’s end, including looming tax hikes and steep spending cuts. 

“This is not something that we can continue to put off,” Lipinski said.

The lawmakers all voted for a House budget blueprint modeled on Simpson-Bowles in April, but that plan got only an embarrassing 38 votes after most members backed their own party’s proposals instead. LaTourette said he was confident the plan would have more success after the election, saying many lawmakers privately indicated to him that they would “be there at the end.”

“We’re going to put them to the test,” he said.