Commentary Magazine


Conservative Groups Fight Against Boehner Plan

Now that House Speaker John Boehner has proposed a debt ceiling plan, the question is whether he’d be able to get it through the House. So far, only a handful of congressional Republicans have said they’ll oppose the proposal, but that number is likely to grow now that conservative groups are quickly lining up against it.

The lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation is already urging Republicans to vote against the Boehner plan, and warned this morning it will include it as a key vote on its legislative scorecard. CEO Michael Needham spelled out the conservative argument against the plan in a letter to members of Congress this morning:

Speaker Boehner’s most recent proposal to raise the debt limit is regrettably insufficient to our times. Step one of the Speaker’s proposal would cut $1.2 trillion in discretionary spending. Assuming all of these cuts materialized, this would reduce our nation’s projected debt at the end of the decade from $24.9 trillion to $23.7 trillion. Step two would create a special committee, which has three major problems: (1) The “deficit reduction” of $1.8 trillion remains insufficient for our times; (2) “Deficit reduction” is a well-known codeword for “tax increases”; and (3) 17 blue-ribbon panels, commissions and the like since 1982 have gotten our nation into the mess we are in and there is no obvious reason as to why the 18th will get us out. Further, this proposal would outline a fast track proposal that unduly limits the rights of the congressional minority.

All in all, under a best case scenario where all of the cuts envisioned in the Boehner plan come to fruition, they would only reduce our nation’s projected debt-to-GDP ratio from 104 percent to 92 percent – a ratio far higher than its current 62 percent, which Moody’s has already said must come down to maintain our nation’s stable outlook.

FreedomWorks has also come out against the plan, with its legislative counsel Dean Clancy writing it “Violates the Cut Cap Balance Pledge* because it “neither cuts nor caps nor balances federal spending. And it creates an opening for Washington to raise taxes next year.” And the House Republican Study Committee, which has internal influence with conservative members, is reportedly opposing the plan as well.

In total, nine House Republicans voted against the conservative Cut, Cap and Balance plan, mainly because they felt it didn’t go far enough in reducing the deficit. From reading Heritage’s critique, there are sure to be many more GOP House members who will reject Boehner’s much more moderate plan on the same grounds. Which means the Speaker will be much more reliant on Democrats if he wants to get it through.

So as of this morning, Boehner’s chances of success are dimming.