A leading panel of budget experts estimated Thursday that President Obama's latest spending plan does not save as much money as the White House initially claimed and is about $1.5 trillion more expensive than the Republican plan.
Since he delivered a major fiscal policy address last week, Obama and other officials have touted that the White House plan would cut $4 trillion over 12 years. Using that figure, they've claimed it's very similar to a House Republican plan which supposedly would cut $4.4 trillion over 10 years.
But given that most budget outlines use a 10-year window, as required by law, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget tried to offer an apples-to-apples comparison -- and determined Obama's proposal would actually cut deficits by $2.5 trillion over the next decade. It credited the president for "moving the ball forward," but said that based on Congressional Budget Office assumptions, the plan doesn't do enough to tackle the debt crisis.
"It appears unlikely that the policies proposed in the president's framework would be sufficient to reduce debt to a manageable level," they wrote.
In response, the White House claimed that using the 10-year window, the president's budget plan would cut $2.9 trillion, not $2.5 trillion. And officials continued to stand by the claim that it cuts $4 trillion over 12 years. A White House aide suggested the president's plan would save more than the committee claims in part because of a "failsafe" provision that would trigger additional spending cuts if debt reduction goals are not met.
"Even with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget's shifting of the goalposts and failure to factor the failsafe in their analysis, they still confirm that the president's plan would reduce the deficit substantially and prevent a large increase in the debt," White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage told Fox Business Network.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget also dialed back Republican claims about their spending plan. Though Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the plan's author, claimed it would cut $4.4 trillion over a decade, the committee said it would cut more like $4 trillion in that period.
That still leaves $1.5 trillion separating the two plans, in an apples-to-apples comparison, raising questions about administration claims that Republicans and Democrats agree on how much to cut.
The new estimates also showed the GOP plan would bring the debt down to about 69 percent of GDP by 2021. By contrast, Obama's plan would bring the debt to 77 percent of GDP, the report said.
The committee is composed of former officials from the CBO, the White House Office of Management and Budget and other key offices.