WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2015 - A small group of negotiators who have been huddling since September – and amazingly, kept their work secret - proposed a new budget deal, which would increase federal spending by $80 billion over two years by cutting and increasing revenues in other areas, raise the federal borrowing limit through 2017, and remove the threat of government shutdowns past the 2016 elections. Here are some of the highlights:
-The federal debt ceiling would be lifted through March 2017, preventing a potential default on U.S. obligations on Nov. 3.
-Caps on discretionary spending would be eased, allowing a $50 billion increase in fiscal 2016, which began on Oct. 1, and a $30 billion increase in fiscal 2017. The additional spending would be split equally between defense and nondefense programs.
-Medicare Part B premiums had been scheduled to go up drastically next year, imposing higher fees on millions of older people. This deal stops that increase.
-The government would raise money by selling 58 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a U.S. stockpile of oil.
-Another series of sales of the wireless spectrum to telecommunications companies would be authorized.
-Businesses could temporarily pay lower amounts into employees' pension plans, increasing the amount of government revenues collected from businesses because their revenues would be higher.
-Crop insurance companies will have to renegotiate their agreements with the federal government next year, and their maximum rate of return would be dropped from 14.5 to 8.9 percent.
-Social Security funds will be moved into the Disability Insurance fund, which would have had to slash benefits next year by 19 percent.
House Speaker John Boehner said the agreement keeps his pledge to deal with a series of difficult issues before his successor takes office. “I didn't want him to walk into a dirty barn full of you know what, so I've done my best to clean it up,” Boehner said. Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan is expected to be elected speaker on Thursday.The legislative text of the agreement can be read here. The summary is here.
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