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House GOP Leaders to Obama: Erskine Bowles's Plan 'Warrants Immediate Consideration'

3:33 PM, Dec 3, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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  • The House-passed Budget Resolution assumes enactment of structural Medicare reform that offers future beneficiaries guaranteed coverage options, including a traditional fee-for-service Medicare plan.  This proposal is based on recent bipartisan efforts and would provide greater support for the poor and the sick and less support for the wealthy.  We achieve these reforms in Medicare without affecting current seniors or those nearing retirement.  This would slow the projected explosive spending growth in this program and eventually maintain Medicare spending as a share of the economy at 4.75 percent, thus saving the program for future generations. 
  • The House-passed Budget Resolution reforms Medicaid and provides states with greater flexibility to better deliver health security to beneficiaries, saving the federal government nearly $800 billion over 10 years.
  • Separate from savings in our proposal for the 2010 health care law, the House-passed Budget Resolution envisions hundreds of billions in savings in other mandatory spending, including reforms to Federal employee compensation and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

These reforms are, in our view, absolutely essential to addressing the true drivers of our debt, and we will continue to support and advance them.  At the same time, mindful of the status quo election and past exchanges on these questions, we recognize it would be counterproductive to publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support in the near-term.

With the fiscal cliff nearing, our priority remains finding a reasonable solution that can pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed into law in the next couple of weeks.  The best way to do this is by learning from and building on the bipartisan discussions that have occurred during this Congress, including the Biden Group, the Joint Select Committee, and our negotiations leading up to the Budget Control Act.

For instance, on November 1 of last year, Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of your debt commission, presented the Joint Select Committee with a middle ground approach that garnered praise from many fiscal watchdogs and nonpartisan experts.  He recommended that both parties agree to a balanced package that includes significant spending cuts as well as $800 billion in new revenue.

Notably, the new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy.  Instead, new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates.  On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending.  These cuts would be over and above the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.

This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform.  Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs.  We believe it warrants immediate consideration.

If you are agreeable to this framework, we are ready and eager to begin discussions about how to structure these reforms so that the American people can be confident that these targets will be reached. 

Again, the American people expect their leaders to find fair middle ground to address the nation’s most pressing challenges.  To achieve that outcome, we respectfully request that you respond to this letter in a timely fashion and hope that you will refrain from any further action that would undermine good-faith efforts to reach a reasonable and equitable agreement in this critical matter.

Sincerely,

John Boehner, Speaker
Eric Cantor, Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip
Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican Conference Chairman
Dave Camp, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means
Paul Ryan, Committee on the Budget
Fred Upton, Committee on Energy & Commerce

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