Dems, gleeful over CBO scores, call on Boehner to abandon his plan

Senate Democratic leaders called on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to abandon his legislation to raise the debt limit by nearly $1 trillion, and said it would not receive a single vote in the upper chamber.

Democrats touted a score released Wednesday morning by the Congressional Budget Office showing that a plan by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion.

Reid said it would be very easy to “tweak” his bill to increase its projected savings to $2.4 trillion or more, enough to cover a big enough increase to the debt limit to carry the nation beyond the 2012 election.

“For us to arrive at 2.4 [trillion], 2.5 [trillion] is really pretty easy to do — it’s what we call tweaking,” Reid said. “The bottom line is there’s only one bill in Congress that’s a true compromise. We’re running out of time and it’s time to get serious about finding that compromise.”

Reid said Boehner’s plan would not be the last one standing.

“Don’t anyone ever think that we’ll be left only with the Boehner plan,” Reid said. “It is not a solution and it will not pass. Every Democratic senator will vote against [it]. Whether we get it tonight, tomorrow or the next day.”

Senate Democratic leaders trumpeted recent analyses showing the Reid plan would cut more spending than Boehner’s alternative.

“The Speaker’s plan is on life support, and it’s time for him to pull the plug,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. “The Speaker is wasting precious time. Every day he spends twisting arms in his caucus, we careen closer to catastrophic default.

“We have more cuts! On paper, the Republicans have no basis for rejecting the Senate plan. That’s why once the House plan is defeated and the Senate plan is the only option standing between us and default, we think Republicans will give this a long look and decide to go along.”

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said CBO had issued a misleading score of Reid’s plan.

“In reality, the Reid plan would only save taxpayers about $1 trillion, while giving the president the largest debt-limit increase in history,” Steel said. “Despite previous claims, it significantly falls short of the requirement that we cut more than we increase in the debt limit.”

He said the Democratic plan relied on “smoke and mirrors” and cut $500 billion less than Reid initially claimed. Democrats said it would cut $2.7 trillion over the next 10 years.

Steel said the plan would cut the defense budget significantly and “hurt our men and women in uniform in a time of war.”

Reid said it would be easy procedurally to alter Boehner’s proposal, if it passes the House, to substitute the Senate’s package.

Senate Democratic leaders are waiting for the House to vote on Boehner’s proposal before deciding their next step. In the meantime, they are continuing to talk to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and Boehner in hopes of negotiating a bipartisan compromise, according to Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Reid declined to say Wednesday when he would put his own proposal up for a vote in the Senate.

“Right now I think we’re going to see what the House does,” he said.

Congress has until next Tuesday, Aug. 2, to raise the national debt limit, under a deadline set by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

Reid said it would be up to President Obama and senior administration officials to decide what obligations to prioritize if Congress fails to act by Tuesday.