Report: Obama & Boehner Talking About Plan With $3 Trillion In Spending Cuts, Few Tax Hikes

A very interesting report from the National Journal about the current state of the negotiations between the White House and the House GOP:

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.

A White House official who asked not to be identified said progress was being made in the discussions. But the official declined to provide any details, deferring to Boehner’s ongoing presentations to House Republicans as he works to determine whether he can garner the necessary support for passage.

As described, the plan would be a major, and unexpected, concession to congressional Republicans. The lack of immediate tax revenue would be a nonstarter for 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. Democratic lawmakers ripped the proposal after Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew briefed them at a Caucus meeting on Thursday.

“There has to be fairness in this,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters. “This can’t be all cuts. There has to be a balance. There has to be some revenue and cuts. My Caucus agrees with that. I hope the president sticks with that. I am confident he will.”

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said Democrats “are volcanic at this point.”

“You can’t ask us to vote when we haven’t been part of the deal,” Mikulski said.

There are similar reports about the possible deal in The Hufffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Politico, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason. This is almost exactly the same manner in which the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, and long-term unemployment benefits, was made back in December; the President compeltely bypassed House and Senate Democrats and struck a deal directly with the GOP that many Democrats found objectionable. Despite threats, the lame duck Congress ended up passing the tax cut extension. It was clear, though, that many on the left had a bitter taste in their mouths as the Christmas holidays approached.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the left-side of the blogosphere is already in a tizzy over this possible deal. Daily Kos calls it “a complete cave – and an epic one at that.” Lawyers, Guns & Money called the possible deal “exasperating.”

Assuming that the broad outlines of the deal remain as reported, I’m sure we’ll hear more outrage from the left. As in December, though, I’m not sure Obama is all that concerned about it. His path to the Democratic nomination is secure, and it’s not like these people are going to vote for Mitt Romney or something.

Anyway, as always, stay tuned……..







FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Chad S says:

    Everyone is denying the substance of this. Boehner, the White House….538 thinks it was a poison pill leak.

  2. Michael says:

    The White House is denying that there will be no revenue increase;

  3. @Michael:

    “No” and “almost no” aren’t exactly the same thing, of course

  4. Michael says:

    Doug, to the Tea Party perhaps. For the majority of us, “no” and “almost no” are both synonymous with “not enough”.



  6. john personna says:

    It’s funny, isn’t it? If the Republicans really took “we’re crazy enough to do it” to the limit, maybe they could make Obama act like the adult in the room.

    But, would that actually be a win for the Republicans, going into 2012?

    It feels like a change is in the wind.

  7. jukeboxgrad says:

    As in December, though, I’m not sure Obama is all that concerned about it. His path to the Democratic nomination is secure, and it’s not like these people are going to vote for Mitt Romney or something.

    Obama knows he will win next year if the GOP nominates anyone but Romney. But Obama realizes that the following scenario is quite possible: Romney is nominated, and the economy is really bad. Obama realizes that in this scenario, it will be a tight race, and the relative enthusiasm of his base is going to matter. So he knows that he doesn’t have unlimited slack to alienate progressives.

    Consider a different theory (which I realize is very speculative on my part). Take a look at this CNN poll (pdf). The first thing to notice is that there’s strong support for tax increases. This is the question: “If you had to choose, would you rather see … a budget plan that only includes cuts in government spending, or a budget plan that includes a combination of spending cuts and tax increases on higher-income Americans and some businesses?” The overall result is 64/34 in favor of tax increases (although among Rs the result is 37/61).

    Now here’s another important question: “[Do] you OPPOSE raising the debt ceiling even if Congress takes action to reduce the amount the government owes.” This is the tea party position, the Bachmann position: she said she would vote against raising the debt ceiling, period. Even if congress passes a plan to cut spending and not raise taxes. Overall, 36% answer yes to this question. But among Rs, 51% say yes. I think this is quite important. A narrow majority of Rs think the debt ceiling should not go up, period. Even if Obama caves completely and agrees to a plan that is all spending cuts and zero revenue increases.

    This is closely tied to another important question: if the debt ceiling is not raised, do you think this will cause only minor problems, or no problems at all? Overall, 37% say yes. In the GOP, 49% say yes.

    So here’s my speculative theory. Obama is calculating that even if he gives the store away, the tea party is still going to pull the plug on 8/2. After all, this reflects the will of the GOP (as indicated in this poll). The result will be chaos, and Obama will be in a strong position to place all the blame on the GOP. After all, he went much further in their direction than what most of the public wants (since support for tax increases is 64/34).

    So here’s the simple reality: a (narrow, perhaps) majority in the GOP is willing to wreck the economy (or at least risk wrecking it) in order to avoid what most people realize is needed: tax increases. Obama is maneuvering to create a situation where this reality is starkly clear to everyone. This would help him a lot next year, for his own election and for the races in congress.

    Yes, this theory of mine is very speculative. I’m only claiming it’s plausible, not that it’s likely. Having said all this, I think what’s more likely is that you’re right, and Obama is simply caving in.