Boehner Counters Obama's Proposal on Deficit Reduction

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WASHINGTON -- Republican Congressional leaders countered President Obama's deficit reduction proposal with a plan to cut the deficit by $2.2 trillion over the next decade by raising $800 billion in revenue and cutting $1.2 trillion in spending.

Another $200 billion in savings would come from changing the way the government calculates inflation, which would slow benefit increases in programs from Medicare to Social Security and raise taxes by slowing the rise in tax brackets.

Speaker John A. Boehner, who has been under pressure to come up with a Republican alternative to the president's proposal, called his offer "a credible plan that deserves serious consideration from the White House." He dismissed what he described as Mr. Obama's "La-La-Land offer" as something that couldn't pass the Democratic Senate much less the Republican House. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, said that he too backed Mr. Boehner's approach.

The counteroffer represented a quickening in negotiations to head off around $600 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts next year that would begin to bite in January. The president's offer -- forwarded to Congressional leaders by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner last week -- stuck almost word for word with the budget proposal the Obama administration released nearly a year ago.

Mr. Boehner's offers also reflects his earlier proposals, calling for half as much additional tax revenue as Mr. Obama and doing so by limiting tax breaks rather than raising rates.

Mr. Boehner emphasized that he viewed his proposal as compromise, saying that he could have come back with a new plan reflecting the House Republicans' true policy wishes. Instead, he said, his counteroffer sticks to numbers offered by Erskine B. Bowles, the Democratic co-chairman of the president's deficit reduction task force.

Under the Republican offer, tax revenue would rise by $800 billion over 10 years, through closing loopholes and ending or curtailing deductions and tax credits. Mr. Boehner did not specify on Monday which tax breaks would be curtailed.

Another $600 billion in deficit reduction would come from changes to federal health care programs like Medicare, Medicaid and the president's health care law. Cuts to other programs that are not under the purview of annual Congressional spending bills -- so-called mandatory programs -- would total $300 billion. And discretionary programs, already cut by nearly $1 trillion through last year's Budget Control Act, would be reduced by another $300 billion.

Those numbers are very different from the president's plan, which foresees $1.6 trillion in new revenue over the next decade, $960 billion of that from the expiration of Bush-era tax breaks for the affluent beginning next month. The president wants between $400 billion and $600 billion in spending cuts, largely from Medicare. But he also wants upfront spending increases to kick-start the economy through new infrastructure spending, and help to homeowners still struggling with their mortgages.


This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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