Politics: July 2011 Archives

After the Boehner plan (as it stood Thursday afternoon) failed to command enough votes to pass, the proposal was strengthened by adding back in to the bill a requirement that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment and send it to the states for ratification prior to any further increase in the debt ceiling. That was enough to get a few more Republican congressmen to support the plan, enough for passage, 218-210, on Friday. (22 GOP congressmen voted no. All four Oklahoma GOP congressmen voted yes; Dan Boren and the rest of the Democrats voted no.)

The addition of the balanced budget amendment is a very positive change, although I'm still uncomfortable with this select committee idea and the small amount of FY 2012 cuts.

Here's a July 29, 2011, email from Sullivan. It appears that he took heed of the negative feedback he received from 1st District constituents about the Boehner Plan and communicated it successfully to House leadership, who in turn took the negative feedback seriously. 

(That said, I think it was a strategic error on Boehner's part to put another debt reduction plan forward, given that Cut, Cap and Balance had already passed the House with bipartisan support. But having put the Boehner Plan forward, it would have been difficult to back down completely.)


I have some good news.  I told you yesterday I was not done fighting for a balanced budget amendment requirement, and I am pleased to report that its back on the table.

Following our calls yesterday, my conservative colleagues and I met with the House leadership team both last night and this morning.  I made it clear where my district stood as did my colleagues.  Speaker Boehner listened, even postponing the vote, and went back to the drawing board. 

Speaker Boehner agreed to strengthen the balanced budget amendment requirements of his budget control plan.  Now, instead of just requiring a vote on a BBA in both chambers,  the Boehner bill now requires a balanced budget amendment be passed by both the House and Senate and sent to the states for ratification before the President can get his second tranche of additional debt ceiling authority later this year. 

So now, before president Obama gets a second round of debt ceiling increase, we get both passage of a balanced budget amendment and $1.8 trillion in additional cuts (which are required to be produced by a select committee with legislative authority and passed by Congress prior to any debt ceiling increase).

I want to be clear, this is a big win for our country and a testament to the grassroots work each of you do.  Again, the Boehner bill is not perfect, but it is essential that we pass a Republican bill with spending cuts and reforms, or else we put Harry Reid in the driver seat and face a real possibility of no spending cuts at all.  Our great country cannot afford that. 

Think about where we started, President Obama demanding a clean debt ceiling increase with no spending cuts - essentially a blank check.  House Republicans are on the verge of passing a bill that completely offsets a short term debt ceiling increase with spending cuts, and  will require that a balanced budget amendment to our constitution must pass the House and the Senate and be sent to the states for ratification and Congress must approve an additional $1.8 trillion in cuts before President Obama  can ever raise the debt ceiling again.

Thank you for your time and advice.  God bless,

John Sullivan

Earlier today, I had the privilege of participating in a teleconference, along with a half-dozen other Tulsa area activists, with Oklahoma 1st District Congressman John Sullivan and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan regarding House Speaker John Boehner's proposal (officially known as the Budget Control Act of 2011) for raising the debt ceiling and cutting and capping projected discretionary outlays over the next 10 years. While I disagree with the decision Ryan and Sullivan have made to support Boehner's "two-step" plan, I appreciate them taking the time to explain their reasons.

House Republicans had passed an earlier plan called "Cut, Cap, and Balance." The bill failed in the Senate on a party line vote. CC&B would have cut $111 billion in FY 2012, placed enforceable caps on future discretionary spending, and would have required passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment by Congress (sending it to the states for approval) prior to an increase in the debt ceiling. The Senate turned CC&B down on a party line vote.

The Boehner Plan doesn't include tax increases, but it's possible (some think likely) that the commission created by the plan would propose tax increases. Assume the six Democrats on the commission are all supportive of tax hikes; all it would take is one RINO squish to give tax hikers a majority, and it seems likely to me that Mitch McConnell would feel obliged to include at least one squishy GOP senator on the commission.

The Boehner Plan (version 1.0.1) cuts $22 billion in FY 2012 and a total of $915 billion over 10 years, raises the debt ceiling by $900 billion, and provides for a commission of 12 (six from each party, six from each House) to recommend further cuts of at least $1.8 trillion. The commission's proposal would be fast-tracked for votes and would be unamendable. The Balanced Budget Amendment would come up for a vote in each chamber, but wouldn't have to pass.

(By the way, we are speaking Intraviazonian here, so "cut" doesn't mean spending less money next year than we spent this year. It means not spending as much next year as the most recent budget plan had projected.)

My takeaway from the conversation with the congressmen is that, while the Boehner Plan does not do as much to cut spending, they believe it has a chance to pass the Senate. Although Senate Democrats have announced they won't vote for the Boehner Plan, supporters in the House think they're bluffing. If the Boehner Plan fails in the House, they believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's plan (almost certain to include tax hikes) will have enough momentum to pass the Senate and get enough squishy House Republicans to back it.

While the Boehner Plan would be better than a Reid or Obama alternative, I don't believe it will pass the Senate, and I don't believe that somehow the mainstream-media-informed public will attach the blame for the failure on the President or Senate Democrats. My guess is that the Reid plan will pass the Senate but won't prevail in the House, and the Boehner plan, if it passes the House, wlll get stuck in the Senate. In that stalemate, the Boehner plan, not the tougher CC&B, will become the starting point in negotiations.

Conservatives may as well be bold on the budget, because they'll be savaged by the media regardless.

Given all that, how does it help the cause of deficit reduction to concede so much before the other side has even brought a plan to the negotiating table? As I tweeted during the teleconference, the strategery escapes me.

What bothers me most about the Boehner Plan is that it doesn't cut spending in any way that you and I would understand the term. Discretionary spending remains and grows from its bloated stimulus levels.

They say it's the best deal we can get. I say it seems unlikely we can get the deal, so why not stick to a proposal like CC&B with bipartisan support in the House and widespread support around the country?

MORE: John Sullivan's detailed rationale for supporting the Boehner Plan.

Dean Clancy of Freedom Works provides the top 10 reasons to support Cut, Cap, and Balance over the Boehner Plan.

Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute shows how spending will continue to grow under the Boehner Plan

Americans for Prosperity is encouraging citizens concerned about the budget deficit to visit the district offices of key congressmen at noon on Thursday, July 13, 2011. A vote on a federal balanced budget amendment, H. J. Res. 1, is expected next week.

Here in Oklahoma AFP is focusing on persuading the state's lone Democrat, Dan Boren of the 2nd District, to support the amendment. Boren's four district offices:

  • Muskogee Office, 431 W. Broadway, Muskogee, OK 74401, (918) 687-2533
  • Claremore Office, 309 W. 1st Street, Claremore, OK 74017, (918) 341-9336
  • McAlester Office, 25 East Carl Albert Parkway, Suite B, McAlester, OK 74501, (918) 423-5951
  • Durant Office, 112 N. 12th Avenue, Durant, OK 74701, (580) 931-0333

From the press release:

Muskogee-- We Need Congressman Dan Boren to Support a Balanced Budget! Oklahoma families understand that they must balance their budgets. Politicians in Washington, DC don't. That's why AFP supports a Balanced Budget Amendment.

This Thursday, July 14th, we are asking you to visit Congressman Dan Boren's district offices and encourage him to support a Balanced Budget Amendment. Take 15 minutes out of your day and make a difference!

The Oklahoma chapter of the free market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity will join a huge coalition of conservative and tea party organizations in a nationwide effort to visit U.S. House Members' district offices. The grassroots message this coalition will carry is that representatives must support a balanced budget amendment to U.S. Constitution that has spending caps and a requirement for a supermajority vote to raise taxes.

"Our grassroots are really worked up about the need for this balanced budget amendment, with tough limits on spending and taxes. State and local governments all need to work each year to bring their books into order and it's long past time that the federal government take similar steps," said Oklahoma State Director Stuart Jolly. "We're going to visit Congressman Boren's district offices because he needs to know how important this amendment is to free market grassroots activists all across this country."

Key features of the proposed amendment:

  • Outlays must match revenues unless three-fifths of each House of Congress votes otherwise.
  • Spending is capped at 18 percent of GDP unless two-thirds of each House of Congress votes otherwise.
  • No bill shall increase taxes unless two-thirds of each House of Congress votes otherwise.
  • The debt limit cannot be raised unless three-fifths of each House of Congress votes otherwise.
  • The President must propose a budget to Congress where outlays match revenues.
  • This amendment may be waived during a military conflict if a majority of each House of Congress approves, and then only spending for that military conflict may exceed the amendment's requirement for balance.

The text of the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment:

Section 1. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless three-fifths of the whole number of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a rollcall vote.

Section 2. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed 18 percent of economic output of the United States, unless two-thirds of each House of Congress shall provide for a specific increase of outlays above this amount.

Section 3. The limit on the debt of the United States held by the public shall not be increased unless three-fifths of the whole number of each House shall provide by law for such an increase by a rollcall vote.

Section 4. Prior to each fiscal year, the President shall transmit to the Congress a proposed budget for the United States Government for that fiscal year in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts.

Section 5. A bill to increase revenue shall not become law unless two-thirds of the whole number of each House shall provide by law for such an increase by a rollcall vote.

Section 6. The Congress may waive the provisions of this article for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect. The provisions of this article may be waived for any fiscal year in which the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.

Section 7. The Congress shall enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays and receipts.

Section 8. Total receipts shall include all receipts of the United States Government except those derived from borrowing. Total outlays shall include all outlays of the United States Government except for those for repayment of debt principal.

Section 9. This article shall take effect beginning with the later of the second fiscal year beginning after its ratification or the first fiscal year beginning after December 31, 2016.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from July 2011.

Politics: June 2011 is the previous archive.

Politics: August 2011 is the next archive.

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