The Failure of Cut, Cap, Balance

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.


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



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?