Hensarling: New Boehner bill still represents GOP willingness to compromise

The new Boehner bill, which looks far more likely to pass the House than the bill Boehner withdrew last night, still offers a compromise to Democrats, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) said today on Fox News.

“We believe, as we said from the very start, we have a debt crisis not because of the debt ceiling but because of the debt,” Hensarling said. “We want to solve the problem. We will compromise by voting to increase the debt ceiling — something against our very nature — but Democrats have to agree to cut up the credit cards. We at least want the Senate and White House to vote on a balanced budget amendment and let the people decide.”

“Happening Now” host Jenna Lee pressed Hensarling, making the same point Ed made earlier today — that the addition of a balanced budget amendment provision ensures Boehner’s new bill will never make it past the Senate. But Hensarling defended the House’s prerogative to pass a bill it actually thinks would make a dent in the debt and deficit — and repeated that the debt ceiling increase itself is the compromise.

“I guess what you’re telling me is I can’t vote for something I believe in because maybe Harry Reid doesn’t believe it,” Hensarling said. “House Republicans are compromising because we’re agreeing to raise the debt ceiling, something we don’t want to do.”

The balanced budget amendment provision in the new Boehner bill should be considerably more palatable to Democrats than the balanced budget amendment included in the original “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan, as Hensarling and The Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll explained (to Ed’s dissatisfaction). It requires only that a balanced budget amendment pass as opposed to an amendment that would require supermajorities in both houses to raise taxes. The Boehner bill also allows a partial increase in the debt ceiling to take effect before that balanced budget amendment passage takes place — a far cry from “Cut, Cap and Balance,” which required a balanced budget amendment to pass both the House and Senate before the House would agree to a debt limit increase at all.

“The American people want the budget balanced,” Hensarling said. “If we’re going to increase the debt ceiling, let’s take care of the debt.”

Frankly, I’m with Hensarling on this, even though I understand Ed’s point about the basic politics of it — Boehner’s new bill won’t pass the Senate as is. But why should the addition of a balanced budget amendment mean that it will fail? What is it about a BBA that Democrats don’t think will help to solve the debt-and-deficit-problem? With every plan the House forces through, it becomes more apparent that Obama and Reid are acting without reference to any kind of budget-balancing principles at all. I’d like to hear President Obama and Harry Reid explain why they oppose a balanced budget amendment. So far, all I’ve heard the president say on the subject is we don’t need a balanced budget amendment. OK. Let’s say we don’t. What harm will it do? All I’ve heard Reid say is it’s “extreme.” Well, why? Frankly, conservatives have done a better job at pointing out the pitfalls of a BBA than Democrats have. Democrats need to make the case that a balanced budget amendment would be bad for our country or look foolish for rejecting out of hand any plan that includes one.

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