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Dueling debt-ceiling plans: Can either pass Congress?

House Republicans and Senate Democrats introduced their plans to resolve the debt-ceiling impasse before Aug. 2. But bipartisan hopes appear thin.

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“While I thank the Speaker for fighting for Republican principles, I cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, the conservative wing of the Republican caucus.

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“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the US will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars,” he added, in a statement. “Cut, cap, and balance is the only plan on the table that meets this standard.”

The Democratic plan

The Senate plan, unveiled Monday by Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada and Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York, aims to cut $2.7 trillion in spending over 10 years and to increase the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion through 2012 in a single vote. Spending cuts include $1.2 trillion from domestic discretionary programs and $1 trillion in savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senator Reid says that the plan was deliberately framed to include only elements that Republicans have agreed to in the past, such as no tax increases and one-for-one offsets between spending cuts and debt-ceiling increases.

“So now, all the Republicans have to do is say, 'yes,' ” Reid said at a press briefing unveiling the plan. “Unfortunately, the Republicans who used to run the Congress on the – their two Republican caucuses are being driven by the radical right wing that is so in tune with the tea party.”

Republicans balk at the inclusion of $1 trillion of war costs that Congress had already committed to cut – jeopardizing the 60 votes needed to pass the measure in the Senate. At the same time, some liberals balked at the omission of tax hikes for the wealthy in the Democrat plan.

“While we applaud Majority Leader Reid for his commitment to protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – and his opposition to a short-term deal that could drive up mortgage and interest rates for the middle class – we strongly urge him and all Democrats to insist on a balanced approach that ends outrageous tax breaks and loopholes for big corporations and the rich,” said Justin Rubin, executive director of MoveOn.org, in a statement.

He added: “Unfortunately, this plan doesn't do that.”

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