McConnell Doubles Down on the Balanced Budget Amendment Parlor Trick

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 18 2011 3:47 PM

McConnell Doubles Down on the Balanced Budget Amendment Parlor Trick

The GOP's leader in the Senate used his opening remarks today to make the case for the Cut, Cap, and Balance pledge in a too-clever-by-half political way. "By my count, 23 Democrats have led voters to believe they supported such an amendment."

We've been over this. The Democrats who backed a BBA in the past backed a different version with fewer restrictions. When I asked McConnell's office how that count of 23 Democrats was conducted -- keep in mind, if 23 Democrats backed the amendment, it would pass with 70 votes -- some of the evidence just didn't hold up. For example, Sen. Mark Udall, D-Col., is included in that number, but Udall has his own version of the BBA, which doesn't include the limitations on tax hikes that the Cut, Cap, and Balance version does. That version limits spending to 18 percent of GDP; Udall limits it to 20 percent. For now, Republicans are ignoring the Democrats who might go along with a BBA and getting them on the record voting against one, teeing them up for "flip-flop" TV ads in 2012.

Advertisement

You can't understate what a non-starter the CCB version of the amendment is. Last week I asked Chris Coons, the freshman from Delaware who's one of the party's most consistent budget hawks, whether or not he could support it. He said no.

"The historic average of spending relative to GDP is above 18 percent," said Coons, "but let's just take, for the sake of argument, their supposition that on average, for the last forty years, spending has been 18 percent of GDP. That's great. But we're trying to budget for the next 40 years, not the last 40 years. And in the past decade, we went through $1 trillion of war expenditures that have not been paid for, a dramatic expansion of Medicare -- Part D -- significant new health care programs, and we have the biggest demographic bulge in American history coming up. It's unreasonable to expect we can keep federal spending at 18 percent of revenue and not have to make dramatic cuts in benefits."

Since the amendment has no chance of passage, that part of the argument will never get hashed out.

 

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.