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CBO's score: $2.1 trillion in deficit reduction

By msnbc.com's Tom Curry:  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office gave its assessment Monday of the Budget Control Act agreed to Sunday by President Obama and congressional leaders. The CBO estimates that if the deal is enacted, it would reduce cumulative deficits by at least $2.1 trillion over the period from 2012 to 2021.

The CBO also said the agreement would allow Obama to increase the limit on government borrowing, in stages, by between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion.

So according to the CBO analysis, the deal does not quite meet House Speaker Boehner’s test of having deficit reductions that are greater than the debt limit increase. But in talking points distributed Sunday night Boehner emphasized that in short term the agreement “would cut & cap discretionary spending immediately, saving $917B (billion) over 10 years (certified by CBO) & raise the debt ceiling by less – $900B – to approximately February.”

And matching ten-year deficit reductions with this particular debt limit increase doesn’t address an important unknown: It’s not possible to predict exactly when Obama or his successor, if he’s not re-elected, would need to ask Congress to once again increase the debt limit.

Between 2007 and 2010, the debt limit was increased six times, from $8.9 trillion to $14.3 trillion.

Even before the full impact of the recession hit the federal budget, the debt limit had to be increased in September of 2007 and again in July of 2008.

Future debt limit increases will depend on several factors, including interest rates (which determine how much it will cost the government to service its debt), the cost of overseas military operations, and whether the economy grows faster than the anemic 0.4 percent rate at which it grew in the first quarter of the year.