House GOP leaders were perfectly candid in their assessment of the deficit-reduction-and-debt-limit-increase plan they put before the House today.

“It’s not ‘Cut, Cap and Balance,'” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “But it is built on the principles of ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ that can pass the United States Senate, as well as the United States House.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) echoed Boehner.

“The plan we just introduced is a well-thought-out and reasoned plan in which no side gets what it wants,” Cantor said.

As rumored, the short-term plan provides for a last-minute debt limit increase offset by even greater spending cuts with no tax increases. It also requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment — but doesn’t require that the amendment pass. The debt limit increase doesn’t carry the country through 2012, either. That means another politically-motivated round of debt limit negotiations — precisely what the president has said he doesn’t want.

“This plan is not perfect,” House GOP Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said. “But it shows a great contrast to what the president has put forward. The president continues to pick politics over people. His only concern when you listen to him is, he brings up the election. We’re more concerned about policies, with the direction this country is going.”

The president is scheduled to respond to Boehner’s plan at 9 p.m. tonight and the Speaker will likely respond to the president’s response.

The plan is not dreadful for a short-term deal. As many have pointed out, the no-tax part, in particular, represents a significant victory for Republicans. But the nature of the cuts aren’t clear and the debt limit increase will be upfront. The deal has already engendered fierce opposition from the “Cut, Cap and Balance” coalition. Realists might suggest time is running out for a reworked “Cut, Cap and Balance” to make its way through the House and Senate — but conservatives counter that “more of the same” in terms of a short-term deal that does nothing to ensure a balanced budget in the future betrays the American people, who sent Tea Partier after Tea Partier to Congress to combat “business as usual.”

In case anyone else has as severe a case of whiplash as I do from the this-is-the-plan, no-that-is-the-plan back-and-forth, it’s helpful to remember no plan is “the” plan until it’s written down, passed and signed. This short-term deal very well could be that, but, until it is, I’m still in the “Cut, Cap and Balance” camp. Of course, Republicans are just looking for a deal that will pass (and that’s understandable) — but, like Erick Erickson, I refuse to offer absolution to tired GOP-ers who’ve abandoned the plan. Too many Democrats have opposed a debt limit increase in the past and too many have expressed openness to a balanced budget amendment to dismiss “Cut, Cap and Balance” as extreme or to pronounce it “over, done and dead,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to do. Perhaps a short-term deal will relieve the pressure of the negotiations momentarily, but it won’t solve the fundamental problems like “Cut, Cap and Balance” would. CCB is still the best plan on the table — one worth reviving and one worth fighting for.

Tags: John Boehner