Paul Ryan sped into action with his 2013 budget resolution. After releasing it on a Tuesday, he put it up for a vote in the Budget Committee on a Wednesday. This should have been immediately unacceptable to the other 37 members of the Budget Committee who allegedly have a function in crafting the budget. But they allowed the vote nonetheless. What’s surprising is that it only passed by one vote.
Two conservative Republicans voted against the Ryan plan, which cuts spending by $5.3 trillion over ten years, because it did not cut the budget fast enough. Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) voted no.
The tight vote indicates that next week House GOP leaders could face more defections on the floor than on last year’s budget, which only four Republicans opposed. GOP leaders say they are confident the measure will pass.
Panel conservatives had wanted to bring discretionary spending down to $931 billion next year as part of a plan to balance the budget within a decade. The Ryan plan contains a compromise spending level $97 billion higher and does not balance until nearly 2040.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) told The Hill that he may vote against the Ryan plan on the floor after supporting it in committee.
So if Mulvaney voted his principles in committee, the Ryan budget would have lost on the merits.
And expect a lot of conservative outcry between now and next week’s vote. The conservative Club for Growth came out against the bill, in particular because it cancels out the trigger:
“Despite containing several important reforms and pro-growth policies, the Ryan Budget falls short in two critical respects. First, it does not balance for decades. Secondly, it violates the Budget Control Act by waiving the sequester,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “By waiving the automatic spending cuts required under the Budget Control Act, this budget is asking Americans to trust future Congresses to do the hard work later. It is hard to have confidence that our long-term fiscal challenges will be met responsibly when the same Congress that passed the Budget Control Act wants to ignore it less than one year later. On balance, the Ryan Budget is a disappointment for fiscal conservatives.”
This just shows you the kind of alternate universe in which conservatives are living. Democrats have already drawn a bright line against the Ryan budget for ending the Medicare guarantee and reducing discretionary spending for the current budget year below the $1.047 trillion determined by the Budget Control Act. And the massively dishonest Ryan budget cuts trillions in taxes for the wealthy and corporations without determining how to make up the lost revenue, and reduces non-defense discretionary spending, basically everything the government does but the military and retirement programs, to almost zero over time. But that’s not good enough for the hardliners.
The Club for Growth is right about one thing, however. Breaking with the Budget Control Act will reduce confidence in any fiscal solution. In fact, it could lead to a government shutdown just weeks before the Presidential election. Democrats will not agree to a budget that goes below the spending targets for FY 2013 set out in that deal from the debt limit agreement. And they are not likely to accede to the end of Medicare as we know it, either. The Ryan budget offers little room for agreement. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s in the interest of either side to have a shutdown, and the can will probably get kicked past the election with a short-term agreement. But even those have been hard-fought of late.
And first things first – the House has to pass the Ryan budget. The defections in committee will probably get matched with more defections on the House floor. And if Democrats do stay away – Heath Shuler voted against the budget in committee, and I don’t know that there’s really anyone to his right in the Democratic caucus – Republicans can only afford 25 defections and still secure passage. With the Club for Growth joining with hardline conservatives, I don’t know how the GOP limits the damage.