Tales from the Trail

Republicans hold debt school for lawmakers

Pop quiz: What’s the debt limit?

As the August 2 deadline for raising borrowing authority nears, House Republican leaders have been holding a series of workshops for their 240 members to help “educate” them on the debt limit, according to senior aides.

In the past couple weeks, a few dozen House Republicans have attended each of the meetings to hear House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan discuss options for cutting spending and field questions about the debt limit.

“Any member (can) come in and have a presentation on debt limit,” one aide said, adding, “they can get facts and have a conversation about what it means.”

While lawmakers offer up ideas for deficit-cutting, a senior House Republican aide said there also is a discussion about “why do we need to raise the debt limit and what has happened in the past? There is that element of education” for a “cross-section” of Republican members.

Photo credit: Reuters/Chip East (National Debt Clock near New York’s Times Square), Reuters/Molly Riley (Republican members of 112th U.S. House of Representatives sworn into office, Jan. 5, 2011)

CBO: Good news, bad news on Republican healthcare plan

The Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ non-partisan score keeper on the cost of legislation, has some good news for Republicans and the alternative healthcare proposal they plan to offer in the House of Representatives. Their plan would save the federal budget deficit $68 billion over 10 years and on average reduce insurance premiums compared to what they would be under current law.

protests“Under Republican health care reforms, premiums will go down, making coverage more affordable for families and employers, which is the first step to reducing the number of uninsured Americans,” said Republican Representative Dave Camp.

The proposal is far more limited in scope than the sweeping healthcare overhaul written by Democrats that the House is expected to debate on Saturday. The Republican proposal would provide for the sale of insurance coverage across state lines and calls for medical malpractice lawsuit reforms.