Bloomberg News

Republicans Pairing One-Year U.S. Debt-Cap Suspension With Cuts

September 21, 2013

House Republicans will consider a measure in the coming week that would suspend the U.S. borrowing limit for one year instead of raising it by a specific amount, said Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the Budget Committee.

Republican leaders will seek to attach several provisions to the measure that would reduce the U.S. budget deficit in the long run, Ryan said. If Congress passes the Republican plan, the government would continue borrowing.

The measure will look “at debt over the long term, and that is what matters the most,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told reporters in Washington yesterday.

President Barack Obama has urged Congress to increase U.S. borrowing authority without conditions, and said he won’t negotiate on the issue.

The House Republican plan would suspend the debt cap until Dec. 31, 2014, according to a proposal distributed by party leaders to Republican members and obtained by Bloomberg News. House Republicans said it is a plan that would save at least $256 billion from budget revisions and changes to entitlement programs.

Republicans plan to add to the measure a one-year delay of Obama’s health-care law, instructions for revamping the U.S. tax code, an authorization to build the Keystone XL pipeline and reductions in government regulations.

Medicaid, Medicare

Republicans will seek to increase means-testing for Medicare, reduce the Medicaid provider tax, revise medical malpractice law and eliminate a public-health fund as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

They want to eliminate social services block grants and require a Social Security number in order to receive a child tax credit, according to the proposal.

Also being considered is a proposal to eliminate a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that would end regulators’ authority to seize and dismantle financial firms if their failure could damage the stability of the U.S. financial system.

Another proposal would gut mandatory spending for the Consumer Financial Protection Board and revise the federal employees retirement system.

Republicans plan to include what they describe as economic growth measures such as encouraging offshore energy production, energy production on federal lands and blocking Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse-gas and coal-ash regulations.

Obama-Boehner Call

Obama called House Speaker John Boehner yesterday to tell him he wouldn’t negotiate on the debt ceiling, the White House and the speaker’s office said in separate statements. The president urged Congress against a “self-inflicted wound,” according to the White House, while Boehner was “disappointed” by Obama’s stance against negotiation, the Ohio Republican’s office said.

Many proposals added to the debt-limit bill had passed the House previously and weren’t taken up by the Democratic-led Senate.

Ryan emphasized means-testing for entitlement programs such as Medicare as one of the changes that Republicans are considering adding to a debt-limit bill.

“Some things like means-testing may not save you a lot upfront but saves you a lot of money in the long run and does the most to help reduce the debt than, say, cutting discretionary spending,” said Ryan, his party’s 2012 vice presidential candidate.

The measure won’t specify by how much the cap will be increased, rather that it will allow the government to borrow for a specified length of time, said Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican.

“It’s hard for us to know what the amount is because we don’t get the numbers in real time from the Treasury Department,” Cole said in an interview. “You don’t eliminate the debt ceiling, you just give the government the ability to borrow for a specified period.”

Leaders are still working on a final plan to include a number of lawmaker requests as part of the measure, said Florida Republican Richard Nugent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roxana Tiron in Washington at rtiron@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net


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