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New Bill Ties Balanced Budget Amendment to Second Debt Ceiling Hike

1:24 PM, Jul 29, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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In order to win the votes of some Republican holdouts, John Boehner's debt ceiling plan has been modified. The bill's first step will remain the same: About $900 billion in discretionary spending cuts in exchange for $900 billion debt ceiling hike. But the second debt ceiling hike needed to get us past the 2012 election would now be contingent upon the passage of a balanced budget amendment (BBA) by the House and Senate (as well as another corresponding cut in spending).

The new BBA doesn't have any strings attached to it like the one included in the "cut, cap, balance" bill, which would have amended the constitution to cap spending at 18 percent of GDP, establish 2/3 vote for net tax increase, and require the federal government to run a balanced budget 5 years after ratification. Congress still could attach any or all of those provisions to a BBA, but it wouldn't be required to do so.

A number of Republicans, such as Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Scott Garrett (N.J.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), and Jeff Landry (La.), say that with the balanced budget amendment added to the Boehner bill, they will switch their votes from "no" to "yes." It seems then that Boehner has enough votes to pass this bill. But with the way the debt ceiling fight has gone thus far, don't count on anything before it actually happens.

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