Cut Cap and Balance far more viable in Senate than McConnell plan is in House 

Mere minutes after reporting that the White House Office of Management and Budget had issued a formal veto threat to the House Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, ABC News Jake Tapper felt the need to tweet: “It bears mention that it’s unlikely POTUS would veto Cut Cap & Balance because it’s unlikely it would pass the Senate.” One wonders why the White House bothered to acknowledge Cut and Caps’ existence if its Senate death was so imminent.

To be fair, Tapper is hardly the only liberal reporter assuming that Cut and Cap is dead. Explaining why he is only covering the McConnell Debt Hike, The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein wrote this morning: “Sorry, but I do not consider a world in which 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' passes to be a possible one.” But why exactly is the McConnell plan considered any more likely to pass the House than Cut and Cap is to pass the Senate?

Let’s assume that Cut and Cap passes the House. Let’s also assume that all 47 Republicans will vote for it in the Senate (all 47 Senators have already co-sponsored a version of the bill's Balanced Budget Amendment earlier this year). That means Republicans would need only four Democrats to cross party lines and prevent economic catastrophe. Here is a list of just some of the 23 Democrats that are either retiring or are up for election next year:

Joe Lieberman (retiring)
Jim Webb (retiring)
Herb Kohl (retiring)
Bill Nelson
Claire McCaskill
Jon Tester
Ben Nelson
Joe Manchin

Republicans would only need to get four out of those eight. And why is the McConnell plan any more appetizing for those on this list than Cut and Cap? According to Keith Hennessey, the $1.5 trillion in cuts that is being tacked onto the McConnell plan will include at least another $195 billion in Medicare cuts. Why would any Democrat want to vote for that? Plus, the McConnell plan forces Senate Democrats to revisit the issue three times. That is three times where a Senate Democrat either has to vote against Obama or for more debt.

Meanwhile, Cut, Cap, and Balance only cuts $111 billion in FY 2012 and none of it is from Medicare. The spending caps, 19.9% by 2021, are easily reversible in any future budget. Furthermore they are perfectly in line with the historic post-World War II spending averages. You only have to go back to 2007, after Medicare Part D and at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to find a year in which spending as a percentage of GDP was as catastrophically low as 19.9%. And you only have to take one hard vote. Meanwhile you can tell independent voters that you voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment. And don’t worry, since constitutional amendments need two-thirds to pass, the BBA will not make it through either chamber.

Why wouldn’t a moderate Dem in a purple/red state like Montana, Nebraska, West Virginia, or Missouri sign on to this deal? Why would Bill Nelson vote to cut Medicare when he could avoid it? If you are a Democrat, do you trust Joe Lieberman on anything?


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