House Speaker John Boehner is gathering his troops at 11:30 this morning for a closed-door meeting to discuss the Continuing Resolution deal with President Obama and congressional Democrats that appears to be in some jeopardy as a result of questions about whether it actually reduces federal spending.
Former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin will discuss the numbers behind the deal. Boehner and House GOP leaders tout the deal as cutting federal spending authorizations by nearly $40 billion, making it the biggest single such cut in history. The GOP leaders multiply that figure by 10 and claim the deal actually represents nearly $400 billion in spending reductions over a decade.
But there's a problem, actually several problems with that calculus. First, despite claims to the contrary, there is a question about whether the CBO agrees with that 10-year-projection by the House GOP leaders. Some GOP backbenchers are claiming CBO is not vouching for that projection, contrary to claims from the Speaker's office.
Second, there is a big difference between spending authorizations and spending appropriations. Calculated on the basis of the former, the deal does represent a major turnaround on authorizations. But, as AP and others reported yesterday, many of the appropriations reductions being claimed by Boehner are on spending that either was previously targeted for elimination or which for technical reasons would not be made anyway.
The bottom line then, from an actual expenditures perspective is that real spending in 2011 is reduced by much less than $1 billion. That fact exploded through congressional GOP ranks and the Tea Party and conservative activists yesterday and Tuesday, with a result that there are genuine doubts about the CR deal's viability today as it goes to the floor.
In short, it may not be the done deal it appeared to be last Friday.
More as it developes from the House GOP meeting.