House bill requires spending cuts, balanced budget

AP News
Posted: Jul 19, 2011 3:09 AM
House bill requires spending cuts, balanced budget

Highlights of a Republican-written "cut, cap and balance" bill the House plans to consider Tuesday:

_Cuts next year's projected $3.6 trillion in spending by $111 billion. Roughly two-thirds of cuts from department and agency budgets, one-third from automatically paid benefits, but leaves decisions to Congress about which programs would be cut. Exempts defense, security, veterans, Medicare and Social Security.

_Gradually decreases, or "caps," spending over the coming decade from 24.1 percent of the economy this year to 19.9 percent in 2021. Over the decade, that would mean about $6 trillion less spending than President Barack Obama proposed in his most recent budget. Congress would decide details. If a cap was exceeded, spending would automatically be cut, exempting Social Security, Medicare, military personnel, veterans and interest due on the debt.

_Congress must approve and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget before the government's debt limit can be increased. After congressional approval of a balanced budget amendment, federal borrowing authority would automatically increase by $2.4 trillion, matching Obama's request. Requires that the balanced budget amendment resemble current House and Senate proposals, which would require two-thirds majorities in Congress to raise taxes or to allow annual spending to exceed 18 percent of the economy _ more severe than the 19.9 percent target for 2021 in the cut, cap and balance bill.