CBO: Revised Boehner bill cuts deficits by $917B over 10 years

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has released an amended version of his debt-ceiling plan, which the Congressional Budget Office now says cuts the deficit by $917 billion over 10 years — $66 billion more than the bill originally cut.

Instead of only cutting the deficit by $1 billion in 2012, the cut is now $22 billion, a number much more appealing to House GOP holdouts. 

The spending caps in the bill were not changed; rather a technical change was made to lower the score. 

Boehner had revised the bill so that the cuts exceed the initial $900 billion debt-ceiling increase the bill authorizes, a raising of the ceiling that should last into February. The size of the debt-ceiling increase remains the same.

The change is being made through an amendment, and the vote is now scheduled for Thursday, a leadership aide confirmed. Boehner will whip holdout members at a full caucus meeting at 9 a.m.

{mosads}Technically the amendment does not alter the structure of the discretionary spending caps themselves. These remain in place, and budget authority for 2012 will still be $7 billion less under the plan than current spending, which is $1.050 trillion, according to CBO.

“The updated legislation makes no changes to the annual budget authority caps, but removes a limitation on outlay calculations that was included in the first version of the bill. This adjustment allows the Congressional Budget Office to provide a more accurate measure of the likely rate of spending,” the House Budget Committee explained on its website. 

According to the text, the amendment strikes two limitations on actual spending outlays, which had been set at $1.262 trillion for next year and $1.196 trillion for 2013.

The CBO looks at such outlay ceilings and considers that they will actually act like targets since appropriators usually try to maximize how much they can spend. Without those ceilings in place, CBO estimates that the cap for 2012 will result in $1.241 trillion actually being spent, a lower figure. The 2013 figure is $26 billion lower in terms of actual outlays. Interest savings related to these lower figures brings the new savings up to $66 billion over ten years.

The leadership also made a technical change to allow a new procedural hurdle for any spending that exceeds the caps. The point of order requires a three-fifths vote in the Senate.

The Boehner plan has the potential for much deeper deficit savings because it creates a committee that is to propose $1.8 trillion in additional savings by Nov. 23. CBO did not score that part of the proposal. 

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