A look at the debt plans

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WASHINGTON - Senate Democrats and House Republicans are pushing rival plans to reduce future budget deficits and avert a potential government default next week. Neither plan raises taxes or cuts major benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

The plan by Senate Democrats would cut spending by $2.7 trillion over the next decade, while increasing the government's ability to borrow by $2.4 trillion.

  • Extends borrowing authority through 2012.
  • Cuts $1.2 trillion from discretionary programs. These are the day-to-day operating budgets, grants and programs of government agencies, such as the Interior, Education Justice and Defense departments and the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Claims savings of $1 trillion from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Saves $400 billion from lower interest payments.
  • Cuts $100 billion from mandatory programs, including agriculture, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Includes savings from reducing waste, fraud and abuse.
  • Creates a bipartisan legislative committee to recommend future cuts, with a guarantee that if the panel can agree on a plan, it will receive a vote in Congress.

The plan by House Republicans would reduce spending by $1.2 trillion over 10 years, while increasing the government's ability to borrow by about $1 trillion.

  • Extends borrowing authority until about February.
  • All cuts would come from the day-to-day operating budgets of government agencies, known as discretionary programs.
  • Imposes caps on future spending.
  • Requires the House and Senate to vote on - but not necessarily pass - a balanced budget constitutional amendment by the end of 2011.
  • Creates a bipartisan legislative committee to recommend $1.8 trillion in future cuts to programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in exchange for increasing the government's ability to borrow an additional $1.6 trillion.

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