The Failure of Cut, Cap, Balance

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 20 2011 8:29 AM

The Failure of Cut, Cap, Balance

The headline is "Cut, Cap, Balance Passes House." The roll call vote isn't quite so cheery for conservatives.

For starters, the really vital and politically compelling component of the bill was the Balanced Budget Amendment. According to the legislation, if it was passed, Congress would need to "send the amendment to the states" -- pass it with a 2/3 vote in both Houses -- to unlock Tim Geithner's power to start creating new debt. But CCB only got 234 votes. It fell 56 votes short of a 2/3 majority. By contrast, when the new Republican House passed a Balanced Budget Amendment in 1995, it was co-sponsored by a Democrat (Charlie Stenholm, who was defenestrated by the shady 2003 re-redistricting of Texas) and collected 300 votes. Far from proving momentum for a new Balanced Budget Amendment, the CCB vote suggests that there isn't enough bipartisan support to make it happen anymore.

Advertisement

And then there's the partisan breakdown. Only five Democrats backed the bill, one of whom is retiring (Dan Boren), one of whom is probably running statewide in Utah (Jim Matheson), and two of whom are being forced by redistricting to run in more Republican-leaning districts (Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre). This vote gave them a little cover without doing much for the legislation. Meanwhile, only nine Republicans voted against it -- so only nine Republicans* are so opposed to any raise in the debt ceiling that they won't even pass this bill. There are 229 other Republicans who've confirmed that there are some conditions under which they could raise the ceiling. Inevitably, some of them will refuse to vote for any other plan. But some of the Senate Republicans who signed CCB now say they could vote for a different plan based on the Gang of Six.

This vote provided House conservatives with a lot of cover. It also revealed the limits to their leverage.

*Michele Bachmann's play was especially canny. She signed the CCB pledge but negotiated her own language, which included a line about repealing the Affordable Care Act. Signing the pledge gave her breathing room in the presidential race, while voting against the actual bill kept her word that she would never ever vote to raise the ceiling.

 

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
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  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
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  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.