Washington, DC is a hot mess today -- literally and figuratively. The White House reversed itself twice yesterday on the acceptability of a short-term debt limit deal. Today, they've landed back on "acceptable." For Now. I think. One of the Republican architects of the fatally flawed 'Gang of Six' plan, Sen. Tom Coburn, is pushing Cut, Cap, and Balance as the best plan to stave off default before August 2nd. He says his group's framework cannot be finalized prior to the debt deadline, and that it is "not related to" the debt ceiling increase anyway. Huh? As Washington Times reporter Emily Miller asks, does President Obama know that?
Harry Reid, meanwhile, is miffed that the House of Representatives is taking the weekend off, rather than working on the debt crisis. Perhaps Reid's mind is so cluttered that he's forgotten that the lower chamber has already done its job on the debt crisis. Twice, actually. The ball's in your court, Democrats. Will you accept default or a national credit downgrade because your tax-and-spend ideology can't countenance a balanced budget -- which enjoys overwhelming public support?
Over on the House side, John Boeher is starting to talk openly about "back-up plans." If that sounds a bit cryptic, consider this: The New York Times and National Journal both report that the Speaker and President Obama are closing in on a largely tax hike-free $3 Trillion debt deal. Hmm:
The White House and House Republican leaders are discussing a large deal to raise the debt ceiling that would include about $3 trillion in deficit cuts over 10 years, according to several congressional aides.
The aides, who declined to be named because they weren't authorized to speak publicly, said the proposal’s outline is broadly similar to a plan discussed previously by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and a Gang of Six proposal to cut about $3.7 trillion in a decade, with the major exception that it would not raise significant tax revenue. The gang proposal by contrast would seek $1 trillion of its deficit cuts from new tax revenue.
That result would be a major, and unexpected concession, to congressional Republicans. And as described, the plan would enrage many Democrats in Congress, endangering its prospects in the Senate in particular. The mere fact the deal is under discussion already has Democrats up in arms.
Boehner's office and the White House rushed to deny the reports, but Jay Carney admits that if there were a deal in the works, he'd probably deny it. Rush Limbaugh just said he received an email from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor saying that there is no deal. Admittedly, the report sounds promising at first blush, but as was the case with the Gang of Six, the devil will be in the details -- none of which are available because we're not sure if the agreement even exists.
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