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Details of rival House GOP, Senate Democratic plans to cut spending and increase the deb
House Republicans and Senate Democrats are pressing competing but broadly similar plans to pair an increase in the nation's $14.3 trillion borrowing limit with spending cuts and to create a special committee to recommend bigger savings for a vote later this year.
The chief difference is the size of the immediate increase in the debt limit. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid's $2.7 trillion debt increase plan would keep the government afloat into 2013, while Republican House Speaker John Boehner's $900 billion increase would require action next year.
Highlights of the competing plans:
House GOP: Immediate $900 billion increase in the debt limit; $1.6 trillion more would be made available after enactment of up to $1.8 trillion in future spending cuts.
Senate Democrats: Immediate $2.7 trillion debt limit increase.
House GOP: Cuts $756 billion over 10 years from the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies. Caps new spending at $1.043 trillion in 2012, $7 billion below 2011 levels. Total cuts of $917 billion, including interest savings.
Senate Democrats: Nearly identical caps on agency budgets. Saves $1 trillion more by assuming steep cuts in war funding. Total cuts of $2.2 trillion, including interest savings.
House GOP: Creates a 12-person, House-Senate bipartisan committee evenly divided between the political parties; charged with producing up to $1.8 trillion more in deficit cuts over 10 years. If a majority of the committee agrees on a plan, it would receive a vote in both the House and the Senate.
Senate Democrats: Nearly identical provisions. The panel would be instructed to seek deficit cuts sufficient to bring annual deficits deficit down to about 3 percent of the size of the economy, a level considered sustainable. That would still leave deficits of about $550 billion in 2015 and about $700 billion in 2021, compared to a $1.3 trillion deficit last year.
House GOP: Requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution but not House and Senate passage of it, as a bill passed by the House last week did; establishes "program integrity" initiatives aimed at stemming abuses in benefits programs like Social Security; increases funding for Pell Grants for low-income college students by $17 billion over 2012-2013, financed by curbs in student loan subsidies.
Senate Democrats: Similar Pell Grant provisions and more extensive program integrity initiatives; reduces "direct payments" to farmers by about $1 billion a year; increases government revenues by $13 billion in revenues through auctions of airwaves spectrum to cell phone service providers.