We are not going to see a vote on the Boehner plan in the House of Representatives today. Yesterday, the plan turned out, due to the use of an old baseline, to have only $850 billion in cuts. It’s fixable, but it is emblematic of the disarray that the president unleashed when he upped the ante on the House Republican plan last Friday and then rejected the bipartisan deal brought to him on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Reid bill is faring even worse. It decimates the defense budget. And Sen. Jeff Sessions pointed out in a statement that there is far less in real domestic spending cuts than Sen. Harry Reid advertised:
“I have warned from the beginning that if we skirted legislative process in favor of closed-door White House meetings, we would find ourselves in the 11th hour with gimmick-filled legislation being rushed through to a panic-driven vote. This is not responsible governance from Washington’s Democrat majority.
As feared, the Majority Leader’s bill does not achieve anything close to the promised savings. Spending next year would be only $3 billion less than the amount enacted for 2011. Far from the $2.7 trillion in cuts claimed, the true spending cuts in this proposal are closer to $1 trillion over ten years — roughly a third of what was advertised — while asking for a nearly $3 trillion increase in the debt limit. This falls far short of the idea that a dollar in cuts should accompany every dollar increase in the debt limit.
Sen. Reid’s proposal is also structured in a way that is clearly designed to further degrade the legally-required budget process. Indeed, under this proposal, he will have even less reason to follow requirement next year than this year. He hopes to protect his majority from having to adopt a budget plan—as they have failed to do for 818 days.
He suggests everyone take a breath and a pause. “Given the late hour, rather than rush through poorly-vetted legislation to grant the president the largest debt ceiling increase in history, we should pursue a more reasonable approach: a short-term extension with real cuts during the immediate time period the extension covers — not ten years down the road.” He adds a carrot for disappointed conservatives: “Then, using the extra time, Congress should pursue a binding framework like Cut, Cap, and Balance to bring the gimmicks to an end. We should try the one thing that has been refused to do from the beginning: open hearings, regular order, and real legislative process.”
That makes a heck of a lot of sense. But you know they aren’t going to do it. The White House is creating havoc to force a decision. The two sides certainly don’t want to prolong this agony. But Sessions was right, as were all the Republicans criticizing the president’s lack of a concrete plan: You cannot determine the country’s fiscal future on the back of a napkin. The White House treated this like a game of chicken (yeah, Boehner will blink!), while the Democrats in the Senate played keepaway (from any hard decisions). The voters have every reason to be less optimistic than ever.