Rep. Dreier Pretends Boehner Plan Will "Ensure" Safety Net Is "Not Touched"
Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) proposal to repeat this debt ceiling fight in six months is designed to force at least $1.5 trillion in cuts to safety net programs. By requiring Congress to approve trillions more in deficit reduction and promising to block any fiscal reform that raises taxes on anyone, the GOP bill makes the next rise in the debt ceiling contingent upon cutting entitlements. That is consistent with stated Republican goals. It's a central feature of Boehner's plan.
So it was surprising to see the Republican chair of the Rules Committee declare this afternoon that the bill is designed to protect so-called "entitlement" programs. Rep. Dave Dreier (R-CA) falsely claimed that "there are in fact exemptions that are in this bill to ensure that Social Security and Medicare are not touched. And we need to remember that, when it comes to the sequestration process it is not touched."
"Those who are saying that this measure will in fact bring about those cuts," Dreier added, "have not read the bill and are mischaracterizing it." That set off a heated exchange with Democrats eager to point out Dreier's dishonesty. Watch:
Note that Dreier doesn't outright lie, but rather hides behind technicalities. Yes, the "sequestration process" embodied in Boehner's spending caps proposal applies to discretionary programs and not mandatory spending on Social Security and Medicare. But Boehner put the whole truth into his own power point presentation to his caucus: The congressional committee set up by his bill to identify additional cuts is meant to focus on "ENTITLEMENT REFORMS AND SAVINGS." If that committee fails to find $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction, we can't raise the debt ceiling again.
That's exactly why Boehner's plan is significantly inferior to Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) competing idea, despite the fact that the two plans contain nearly identical discretionary spending caps. Reid's bill raises the debt ceiling far enough to let Congress refocus on job creation for a while. Boehner's bill means we do this all over again in six months, and this time we have to slash safety net programs.
The last time Republicans tried to do that, their "Path to Prosperity" became a political albatross almost immediately. No wonder Dreier is so eager to say their new plan "ensure[s] that Social Security and Medicare are not touched," even though he knows better.
UPDATE: They've pulled the plan off the floor, presumably to avoid an embarrassing "no" vote.