Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on, and likely pass, a conservative Republican plan called "Cut, Cap, and Balance." The package will include some immediate, as-yet unspecified spending cuts, a statutory cap to keep spending below 18 percent of GDP, and a promised separate vote on a Constitutional amendment that requires Congress to maintain a balanced budget, but essentially forbids any future tax increases.
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It would also raise the debt ceiling through 2012 -- an ancillary benefit for Republicans who are looking for any way to pin the consequences of a debt default, should one happen, on Democrats. Indeed, the GOP feigned shock and anger Monday when the White House, as expected, issued an official veto threat -- turns out President Obama's the one threatening to wreak havoc on the country.
Of course, later in the week, the Senate will follow suit, and there Cut, Cap, and Balance is expected to fail.
For Republicans, it's the perfect alignment of popular sounding policies -- "spending cuts" a "balanced budget" and, finally, an end to this debt limit brinksmanship -- minus the a scintilla of accountability or transparency. And for Republicans trying to make nice with conservative activists, it will give them cover to later vote for a much more modest plan to cut some spending, raise the debt limit, avoid default. But the details have been intentionally obscured by most conservatives, and they reveal the plan to be the most radical fiscal policy the GOP has aligned behind in years -- one that makes the Republican's current budget proposal to phase out Medicare appear moderate by comparison.