DEBT SHOWDOWN

Debt crisis: Boehner retools plan to solve debt crisis

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Amid all the heated rhetoric, it was easy to miss the fact that the differences between the sides actually seemed to be narrowing.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Boehner's plan represents significant movement from a bill the House passed last week, this one requiring less of the long-term spending cuts that had made Democrats balk. And Reid no longer is insisting on having tax increases, anathema to Republicans, as part of any plan to cut deficits.

Boehner needs to do more than pump up the legislation, however. He has to shore up his standing with tea party-backed conservatives demanding deeper spending cuts to accompany an almost $1 trillion increase in the government's borrowing cap.

But Rep. Alan West, R-Fla., said Wednesday that Boehner's bill was picking up support even among conservatives.

"Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama are going to be surprised tomorrow night," he said. "I'll bet my retirement check on it. I'm a conservative. I'm going to support this."

Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., said he remained undecided, but predicted that the reworked Boehner plan was "about as good as it's going to get. That's a pretty strong argument."

Unless he can wrestle the situation under control, Boehner risks losing leverage in his dealing with Obama and the Democrats who control the Senate.

Reid said Boehner's original plan was destined to fail in the Senate and it drew a White House veto threat. But it was nevertheless framing the debate over how to reduce long-term deficits while raising the debt ceiling.

Tuesday's CBO analysis said the GOP measure would cut the deficit by about $850 billion over 10 years, not the $1.2 trillion originally promised. Even more embarrassing was a CBO finding that the measure, which would provide a $900 billion increase in the nation's borrowing cap, would generate just a $1 billion deficit cut over the coming year.

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