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CBO Finds Reid’s Plan Saves Less than Advertised

The Congressional Budget Office analysis of Sen. Harry Reid’s deficit reduction plan found that it saved $2.2 trillion, which is less than the $2.7 trillion touted by the senator. But the CBO’s number also includes roughly $1 trillion in savings from the wind-down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which Republicans argue have already been accounted for.

Senate Republicans quickly jumped on the findings to slam Reid for using “accounting gimmicks” to give the appearance that his plan includes far more reductions than it actually does.

“By comparing his plan to that unrealistic baseline—generating the appearance of savings the GOP could easily have claimed but chose not to—CBO is obliged to tally the war savings even though they do not exist and even though they do not constitute a spending cut,” said Stephen Miller, Republican communications director for the Senate budget committee. “It’s just one more huge accounting gimmick. At bottom, Reid’s plan leaves us with—at the very best—one dollar in cuts for every three dollars in debt hike.”

But Republicans have little leverage to criticize the Reid plan, since analysis of Rep. John Boehner’s dueling proposal found that his only included $851 billion in reductions. Boehner is reworking it, but will he actually be able to come up with cuts that would make it substantially larger than Reid’s? In the time he has, it doesn’t seem likely. If there are legitimate reasons for the GOP to oppose the Senate Democrat’s proposal, it will probably be based on how heavy Reid’s plan is on defense reductions. But as of now, both plans seem to be equally unpalatable to fiscal hawks.


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