This Saturday morning, July 23rd, the Senate was originally scheduled to vote on Cut, Cap and Balance, the Republican plan to cut $111 billion out of this year’s deficit, trim $4 trillion over ten years, and present a balanced budget amendment to the states. Instead, Harry Reid moved the vote up to Friday morning, calling it a waste of time and the worst piece of legislation to ever come to the Senate floor. It failed to pass on strict partisan lines.
Senator Schumer called the bill “Cut, Cap and Kill” because he insisted that the bill would kill Medicare. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz declared in the House of Representatives that the bill would kill seniors and that it was the Paul Ryan plan on steroids. The only problem is that in three different places Cut, Cap and Balance specifically exempted Medicare and Social Security from cuts and caps. Had Republicans known, some of them might have been a little bit more up in arms about the bill. It was actually a very good compromise. It cut and cap wasteful spending on liberal social programs and government bureaucracy, not hot buttons like military, Social Security and Medicare.
Perhaps that is a more reasonable explanation of why Harry Reid went back on his promise to allow debate on Cut, Cap and Balance and instead moved the vote up. Perhaps someone in the Senate actually read the bill and told Reid what was in it. And then, as if scripted, suddenly news outlets started declaring a deal between Boehner and Obama that was so close Reid needed to get this bill off the floor and stop “wasting time” on it. The only problem is there was no such deal. Somebody was lying to provide the sense of urgency needed to cut off debate on Cut, Cap and Balance before it got out that Democrats were lying about it killing Medicare.
This has become the name of the game in budget talks. Neither side is willing to give in because both sides know that 2012 elections hang in the balance. The difference is that Republicans have actually gone so far as to write a good compromise bill. Democrats can’t vote yes on it, not because it “kills Medicare” or kills seniors. They can’t vote on it because passing Cut, Cap and Balance would destroy Democrat re-election hopes for 2012. It would be a huge Republican victory because Republicans came up with it.
On the other hand, Democrats can’t write a plan of their own. They haven’t submitted a budget in over 800 days, and they can’t submit one now or that will also destroy their chances of getting re-elected in 2012. Democrats can’t write a bill that says “We want to raise taxes so that we don’t have to cut spending as much” and still win in 2012 because the vast majority of the country doesn’t want Democrats to raise taxes so that they can spend more. They are spending enough already, and we are taxed enough already. On the other hand, Democrats can’t write a plan saying “Ok, no higher taxes, just cuts” or they will lose their class warfare base. The liberal base of the Democrat party does not want a bill that doesn’t raise taxes on the “rich”. It’s not about raising revenue, it’s about punishing upper classes more.
Republicans submitted a plan and it was a good plan. Obama has signaled that he is willing to let the country default on its debt rather than compromise with Republicans. Democrats have proven that they are the party of no on a budget deal. If Republicans end up caving in order to save our credit rating, I hope Americans get the right message. It doesn’t mean Republicans are wimps and we need to get rid of them. It means they can only do so much with just a majority in the House. We need to give them the Senate and the Presidency in 2012 if we expect anything to get accomplished.