Conservatives demand balanced budget as part of debt limit deal

A coalition of conservative groups on Thursday demanded that Congress only raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt limit if a path to a balanced budget is enacted.

The groups say the plan must balance the budget within 10 years and not include higher taxes.

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“Conservatives should not raise our nation’s statutory debt limit unless Congress passes and the president signs into law real reforms and immediate spending reductions that place America on a path to balance within 10 years without raising taxes and keeping the budget in balance,” a memo from the groups says.

The memo is signed by the Club for Growth, Heritage Action, Citizens United, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity and other major organizations. In total, 41 conservative leaders signed the document.

The memo demands that revenue remain at 18.5 percent of gross domestic product in the balanced budget plan. 

The memo seeks to blame the "fiscal cliff" and debt ceiling standoff on President Obama, and claims that once extraordinary measures are exhausted to avoid hitting debt ceiling, a debt default can be avoided.

“Through debt limit negotiations, Congress must require the Administration to accept a prioritization bill that ensures the president uses existing authority to prioritize interest payments on our debt to avoid a federal debt default,” the memo states. 

Achieving the conservatives' demand will be tough: the House over the last two years passed massive reform budget that would dramatically change Medicare and Medicaid, but those plans only balanced the budget around 2035. 

The groups note that Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and the House Republican Study Committee have put forward plans to balance the budget soon. Some of these plans rely on cuts to benefits for those reaching retirement age or the closing of major government departments to achieve their aims, however. 

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