The plan that John Boehner is bringing to House Republicans is a step toward what seems to be the most likely outcome to the debt ceiling negotiations: the limit will be raised in exchange for, effectively, fairly large cuts to discretionary spending, but no entitlement reform beyond the promise of a commission, and no tax increases. Reportedly, Senate Democrats are proposing a similar deal, although their version would raise the ceiling immediately by enough to last beyond the 2012 elections, whereas Boehner’s would require at least one more vote to raise the limit. Harry Reid’s version will also include at least $1 trillion of savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As always, the value of either plan would depend on its details. At this point, such an outcome could represent a good way out for Boehner and Republicans. Substantively, though, it would address the debt problem. Politically, Republicans would go into the 2012 elections with their desire to restructure and trim Medicare on the record, but without any results to show for it.
One note: the Boehner plan would call for a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment. That doesn’t amount to much, although it might technically check the box for a number of Republicans who’ve stated they won’t vote to raise the ceiling without structural spending reforms.