Credit to a Few Who Pushed a Bipartisan Budget
Down in flames
Credit to a few who pushed a bipartisan budget
April 1, 2012
Yes, the U.S. House last week torpedoed the only bipartisan budget resolution to reach the floor in more than a decade. As we note in the other editorial on this page, just 38 members voted in favor of the proposal. The vast majority of House members put partisanship above progress on the nation's debt.
The plan, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Republican Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio, incorporated recommendations from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. That's the group created by President Barack Obama and chaired by former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson. That report recommended an overhaul of government spending, tax reform and deficit reduction, but most of Congress, and even the president who created the commission, wouldn't embrace the result.
The Cooper-LaTourette measure tried to revive the ideas behind Simpson-Bowles. To their credit, House members from Illinois—Democrats Mike Quigley and Dan Lipinski and Republican Robert Dold—were co-sponsors. Republican Reps. Tim Johnson and John Shimkus voted for it. The rest of the Illinois delegation voted it down. (Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. did not vote.)
•Cut the federal deficit by more than $4 trillion during the next 10 years. About two-thirds of the reduction would come from spending cuts and one-third from tax increases.
•Limit discretionary spending — money for nondefense programs, including education, transportation and human services — to $1.043 trillion in 2013 with growth limited to 1 percent below inflation after that. Total projected savings: $625 billion more than the caps set in the Budget Control Act of last year. (The bipartisan plan would spend a little more than the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan and passed by the House, which limits discretionary spending to $1.028 trillion).
•Strengthen Social Security and limit the growth of Medicare. (Ryan's plan anticipates smaller increases in Medicare spending growth).
•Reduce defense spending. (Ryan's plan would increase defense spending.)
Why was there so little support for Cooper-LaTourette?
"Democratic leadership wants the Ryan budget to pass," Lipinski, who is often refreshingly candid, told us. "We know it's not going anywhere, but it's a good campaign issue to hit Republicans with who vote for the Ryan budget. I think it's time we do the responsible thing and let's pass a budget that deals with the deficit in a bipartisan manner and could pass the Senate. But it looks like this year, we're going to keep punting on this."
House Republicans passed the Ryan budget, knowing it's dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate. House Democrats voted against the Ryan budget and against President Obama's budget. And, largely, against the bipartisan budget. Talk about profiles in courage.
Credit, again, to the Illinois members of the House who stuck their necks out for a bipartisan deal: Quigley, Lipinski, Dold, Johnson, Shimkus.
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