WASHINGTON — The stance of Louisiana’s congressional delegation exemplifies the gridlock over any debt and deficit plan, with members supporting opposing proposals offered by their party leadership.
Several Louisiana Republicans are backing the plan by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, while the state’s lone House Democrat is supporting a proposal offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
President Barack Obama threatened Tuesday to veto the Boehner proposal if it reaches his desk, which is unlikely because it is expected to be blocked if it gets to the Senate.
The Boehner plan was hammered out with Senate leaders and appears to be the best legislation to work with, said Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.
Cassidy was waiting Tuesday for an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office but generally backs the Boehner proposal, he said.
“Smoke and mirrors have become cliché because everybody in Washington in times past has used smoke and mirrors,” Cassidy said.
“This blows away the smoke and removes the mirrors.”
The Reid plan offers the best compromise, but lacks a call from Democrats to make increased tax revenues as part of the plan, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, said.
“There is an outline in history that shows that a little revenue with a lot of cuts will lead the country to more prosperous times,” Richmond said. “You saw that under Clinton and to some extent, Republicans don’t want to admit it, but it’s the same thing Reagan did.”
Obama has called for revenues to be part of the final package, a move that Republicans reject wholly. Obama backtracked earlier in the week, saying he could support the Reid plan that calls for $2.7 trillion in cuts over 10 years without the tax revenues.
Boehner’s plan includes an increase of the record $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by $1 trillion in two stages, a move that Obama has opposed. Obama has called for any debt increase to last through to 2013 to avoid becoming an election issue in 2012.
Boehner’s effort would be linked with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Some of his party’s most conservative members have said they won’t support his bill because they said it doesn’t contain enough spending cuts.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., is standing by the Republican plan of “cut, cap and balance,” he said. The House passed the move that calls for a balanced budget amendment last week but the measure faltered in the Senate.
Senate Democrats have opposed the legislation saying it would hamper spending on critical federal programs, including the entitlements of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
With a Tuesday, Aug. 2, deadline approaching to have an agreement, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana, is open to any compromise legislation, she said Tuesday.
“It’s very important that we find a way forward,” Landrieu said. “Under no circumstances can we afford not to live up to our obligations.”
Both proposals call for the creation of a new 12-member bipartisan committee of 12 lawmakers who would be directed to come up with $1.8 trillion in further cuts.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R- New Iberia, said he isn’t crazy about the commission creation.
“I’m tired of studying,” Landry said Tuesday. “I’m just tired of putting politics over people in this town.”
Despite the commission, the U.S. Congress will have the final say on any spending cuts, said Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Metairie. Scalise accused Democratic leader Reid of offering a plan with “gimmicks.” Reid has said his plan would partly rely on the scale back of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, is a Boehner loyalist but thinks that any spending issues should be handled by congressional committees such as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee that he sits on and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
Boustany likes the Boehner plan and its call to raise the debt in two segments, he said.
“I recognize the importance of having two stages, with some of the deeper cuts that will require more work by the committees,” Boustany said.
Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, of Quitman, declined to comment on the proposals Tuesday. He was still studying them, a spokeswoman said.
The Boehner proposal isn’t ideal, said U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden. Like other House Republicans, Fleming backed the “cut, cap and balance” bill. The new Boehner plan, however, would at least temporarily move the debt limit issue forward a step, Fleming said.
Landry is measuring the positive and negatives of the Boehner proposal, which is expected to be voted on in the House Wednesday, before deciding whether he could vote for it, he said.
“I look at it this way, can I sell this to my district to the people who voted for me?” Landry said. “If I vote for this will they believe we actually did something?”