This morning, the Biden-led deficit commission will hold its first meeting. At a time when we borrow 40 cents of each dollar and our debt is more than $14 trillion, any move to raise the debt limit must be accompanied by immediate spending cuts and binding reforms so that we don’t continue to push our country down the road to bankruptcy. For decades, Congress has increased the debt limit without implementing serious reforms and those efforts have simply resulted in more debt limit increases, which is unacceptable. As Leader Cantor has made clear, the House GOP position is the Ryan budget, period. Our budget assumes a debt limit increase while managing down our debt by strengthening our insolvent entitlement program, and achieving significant savings in non-health care mandatory programs and discretionary spending. We simply cannot afford to kick the can down the road any longer. We need real cuts and real reforms today so that we can begin to get our fiscal house in order, boost the economy and get people back to work.
Today In History: In 1961, Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. is launched into space aboard the Freedom 7 space capsule, becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space. The suborbital flight lasted 15 minutes and reached a height of 116 miles into the atmosphere.
Birthdays: Niki Taylor, Chris Brown, Eva Mendes, Michael Irvin and Dean Stockwell
Here is what is in today’s Ledger ...
State of Play: Leader Cantor To Push Ryan Budget As Deficit Commission Talks Begin
Cantor To Push For All Provisions Of The Ryan Budget In Debt Limit Discussions. On the eve of debt-reduction talks led by Vice President Biden, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) said Republicans remain convinced that reining in federal retirement programs is the key to stabilizing the nation’s finances over the long term. But he said Republicans recognize they may need to look elsewhere to achieve consensus after President Obama “excoriated us” for a proposal to privatize Medicare. ... In the Biden talks, Cantor said, he would press for all the provisions in the Ryan proposal, including changes to Medicare and Medicaid that would produce hundreds of billions of dollars in savings and dramatically transform both programs. He challenged Obama to provide specifics of his own deficit-reduction plan, which calls for modest changes to the programs. But with Democrats showing no inclination to engage seriously on entitlements, Cantor said, the Ryan budget offers many other avenues for compromise. ... “We want to be there with a safety net for people who need it. But what we’ve seen over the years is a country that has turned much more into an entitlement country for people who don’t need it,” Cantor said. “That is the fundamental question at stake here.” The Washington Post
Leader Cantor On Spending Caps: We Are About Enacting Real Cuts and Real Reforms This Year. Some Republicans hope to attach legislation sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to the so-called debt limit bill. Their proposal would cap spending at about 21 percent of the size of the economy, backed up by automatic spending cuts if Congress is unable to enact legislation that brings spending in under the cap. ... Cantor wouldn't dismiss the idea, but he said Republicans want something concrete immediately. "All that is fine, but the history of Congress has been that anytime you put enforcement mechanisms in place like that, ultimately they're waived," he said. "We're about trying to affect real cuts, real reforms this year." The Associated Press
Divided Senate Democrats Won’t Be Bringing A Proposal To The Blair House Today. Senate Democrats won’t be putting much on the table when the first bipartisan debt panel meeting with Vice President Joseph Biden takes place today at Blair House. That’s partly by design, partly by necessity. ... even if Reid wanted to put a specific proposal on the table, his caucus is deeply divided over what to do ... “It’s a mess,” another Democratic aide said. ... Sen. Patty Murray acknowledged that Democrats don’t yet have a plan. “I think there is the fact that we need to come to consensus, but on what it is yet, we’re not there,” the Washington state Democrat said. Roll Call
Budget Talks: President Obama’s Modified Budget “Proposal” Doesn’t Cut $4 Trillion
The President’s “Framework” Falls Well Short Of The $4 Trillion He Promises. Ever since President Obama gave his speech on deficit reduction last month, in response to the Paul Ryan-authored 2012 House Republican budget, press accounts have suggested that he has released an actual budget that would reduce deficit spending by $4 trillion. This claim is wrong on both counts: Obama has not released a second budget, and the proposals he outlined in his speech and its corresponding "framework" would not reduce deficit spending by anywhere near $4 trillion. ... Prorated over ten years, that $4 trillion would be $3.3 trillion. In truth, it would likely be a lot less, as Obama’s framework says that deficit reduction “should be phased in over time to ensure that fiscal policy does not undermine the momentum of our economic recovery.” All told, that’s $1 trillion in savings already included in Obama’s 10-year budget, leaving just $2.3 trillion in additional savings over a decade. The CBO, however, says that Obama’s budget would actually increase deficit spending by $2.7 trillion versus current law. So reducing that tally by $2.3 trillion would still mean increasing deficit spending by $400 billion even in relation to current law — a far cry from reducing it by $4 trillion. The Weekly Standard
Douglas Holtz-Eakin: President Obama’s Budget Framework Maintains The Dem Spending Spree. So why does Obama choose (and let’s face it, you can put anything in a budget, so it is a choice) to run a deficit of $1.2 trillion in 2021? Spending. Why does he choose to drive the federal budget into a debt spiral? Spending. Why are this nation’s growth, social safety net, and credit rating at risk? Spending. National Review
The Road Ahead: House Republicans Form Energy Task Force To Address Energy Independence, Gas Prices
Leader Cantor: It’s Time to Restart Offshore Energy Development in Virginia. With gas prices pressing higher — the average price per gallon of regular in the Richmond area is $3.88 as of today — Republicans want to show that they're working to alleviate the pain. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-7th, said he expects the leasing act to pass the House. Its chances in the Senate and beyond are less clear. He said this measure is part of a larger energy plan that Republicans have put forth. "The increase in the price (of gas) has served as an additional tax on people's discretionary income," he said. "There are some things we can do to give relief to folks, and this bill is one of them." The Richmond Times-Dispatch
Whip McCarthy, House GOP Launch Energy Task Force. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy huddled Wednesday morning for the first time with a new internal GOP task force aimed at promoting Republicans’ energy message. According to a GOP aide, the House Energy Action Team is made up of 26 members, including Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (Wash.) as well as numerous members from both committees. The group will act as leadership’s primary vehicle for pushing its energy agenda and demonstrating that, “House Republicans are on the side of the small businesses and families who are increasingly harmed by record high energy prices,” according to a description of the group provided to Roll Call. Roll Call
Chairman Hastings: House Republicans Are Taking Action To Expand Domestic Energy Production, Create Jobs and Provide Relief At The Pump. A group of House Republicans formed a coalition Wednesday to advocate for a slew of GOP energy priorities including domestic oil-and-gas production. ... In a statement, Hastings touted his bills to expand oil drilling, the first of which is slated for a House vote this week. “With the price of gasoline increasing daily, and the prospect of $5 gasoline looming ahead, it is time for Congress to put an end to the Obama Administration’s anti-energy, job-destroying policies that are inflicting further economic pain,” he said. “House Republicans are taking action this week to reverse these Obama Administration policies and pass legislation to expand American energy production, create new American jobs and lower energy prices." The Hill
VA Governor Supports House GOP Action To Expand Offshore Energy Production. America's energy future must be made more secure and must focus on domestic energy resources. Providing the leadership and guidance America needs at this time will calm markets. It would also reassure Americans that there is a vision and plan for America to become energy independent and not have our energy prices defined by the stability of Middle Eastern dictatorships, revolutions or armed conflicts. The House of Representatives will soon be considering three important bills to get our country back on track. HR 1229, the "Putting the Gulf Back to Work Act"; HR 1230, the "Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act"; and HR 1231, the "Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act." These bills all expand offshore energy production to create jobs, lower energy costs and generate revenue to help pay down the national debt. They also improve national security by reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil. The Richmond Times-Dispatch
High Gas Prices Are Limiting GDP, Stifling Job Creation. ... the president continues to get dismal ratings for his handling of an economy dragged down by gas prices, which averaged $3.98 across the country on Wednesday, according to AAA. The high gas prices limited gross domestic product growth in the first quarter, and have taken a bite out of jobs, the most important economic indicator for the White House. The Hill
Off The Beaten Path
Good Thinking, Einstein – Scientists Affirm Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity – The Wall Street Journal
FYI – Black Ops Double XP Weekend Extended
Today, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
The rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendments:
Reps. Connolly / Moran / Sarbanes Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Rush Holt Amendment (10 minutes of debate)