By Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer and Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
The House of Representatives passed the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge last night, 234-190. The Pennsylvania delegation voted entirely on party lines.
House Republicans have touted the plan as the best and most expedient way to balance the budget. It contains no tax increases, requires the budget to be balanced in ten years, and requires a two-thirds vote to raise taxes in the future.
Nationally, Democrats voted almost entirely along party lines (five defected) against the act accusing Republicans political posturing. President Obama said he would veto it if it arrived at his desk and it is not likely to pass the Senate.
After the vote, campaign committees on both sides went on the offensive.
The National Republican Congressional Committee accused Representative Mark Critz of unwilling to make tough choices:
“Instead of supporting a promise to have the government live within its means, Mark Critz signaled to his constituents that he would rather tax, spend and raise his credit card limit even higher so that he can continue to ignore the dire consequences of his failed Democrat policies,” said NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay. “Critz again demonstrated that he is oblivious to the calls for serious deficit reduction to pave the way for job creation, and instead would rather continue to spend and borrow from foreign countries like China and place that burden on future generations of Pennsylvania families.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee accused Republicans of pandering to their base, abandon moderate voters, and threaten Social Security.
The DCCC called [Insert Republican Congressman]’s vote for the pledge evidence that he supports the extremist Tea Party agenda.
“[Republican Congressman] Voted for the Cut, Cap and Balance Plan that is More Extreme than the Republican Budget . The non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote: The measure […] stands out as one of the most ideologically extreme pieces of major budget legislation to come before Congress in years, if not decades. […] The legislation would inexorably subject Social Security and Medicare to deep reductions.”
And statements from the delegation came rushing in. Here are the ones we’ve seen so far:
Representative Kelly (R-3):
“During discussions last week over proposals to increase the debt ceiling, President Obama told Members of Congress to ‘eat your peas.’ What he really meant was pick your poison.
“Even though he has not put forward a written proposal that could be scored by the Congressional Budget Office and debated in Congress, in recent months the president has offered a variety of solutions to managing our debt, including a clean vote to raise the debt ceiling without any strings attached, which was roundly rejected, and a vague plan to cut spending while raising tax rates on small businesses and families.
“This plan to increase tax rates flies in the face of President Obama’s own admission that, ‘You don’t raise taxes in a recession,’ a claim he made in 2009 while touting his failed $800 billion stimulus plan.
“As the American people know all too well, we are knee deep in a recession and the president should follow his own advice and realize that raising tax rates is not the answer to our $14.3 trillion debt. Considering the fact that the U.S. currently spends $3.7 trillion annually and brings in only $2.12 trillion per year, new taxes could not possibly bridge the difference and do so without destroying jobs and obliterating our economy.
“So when the president tells us to ‘eat our peas,’ he’s also asking the American people to swallow the bitter pill of failure that his policies will bring about if we don’t act now.
“The Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011 is the only clear and comprehensive measure put forward to address Washington’s spending addiction and reduce the tremendous burden of debt we are placing on our children and grandchildren.
“I am not going to tell the president what he should or shouldn’t eat on his plate.
“What I’m telling him to do is to put the welfare of our great nation before his reelection efforts and support something that is intrinsically good for the country and our economy, and that’s to cut spending now, cap spending in the future, and balance the budget permanently through an amendment to the Constitution.”
“The so-called Cut, Cap and Balance Act is nothing more than political theater, designed to provide a politically expedient vote for the hard-right members of the pro-default wing of the Republican Party. With the clock ticking away towards an unprecedented American default, the stakes are too high to play political games. We need to work to finalize real solutions, not pursue another meaningless red meat vote designed solely to appeal to a political base.”
“I supported the Cut, Cap and Balance legislation because constituents in my District and across the country are demanding that Washington live within its means and stop the spending-driven debt crisis forcing us to borrow 40 cents of every dollar the federal government spends. The legislation charts a responsible course for restoring much-needed fiscal sanity and making everyone in Washington more accountable to families, seniors, small business owners and all taxpayers.”
““It is time for leadership in Washington on the debt issue and that is why I will vote in favor of the House Republican Cut, Cap and Balance plan later today.
We are now two weeks out from the August 2nd deadline to avoid defaulting on our nation’s obligations. Negotiations between Congress and the White House have been stalled because of President Obama’s refusal to show leadership in forging an agreement to avoid a dangerous default on our sovereign debt.
There is no question we are in a spending-driven debt crisis. We are now borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar spent in Washington. In his first two years in office, President Obama has added more to our national debt than was added between 1776 and 1992. To end the crisis we must end reckless unrestrained and unsustainable spending. The Cut, Cap and Balance plan is a good first step in changing the culture of spending in Washington.”
Representative Marino (R-10):
“I don’t vote symbolic,” he said. “This is what the American people want. They want us to cut spending and cap our expenditures, just like they are forced to do on a daily basis.
“They want us to only spend what we take in and since we haven’t been able to do that for decades, this bill includes a balanced budget requirement,” Marino said.
On Tuesday morning, Marino joined 21 freshman colleagues for an impromptu press conference in front of the White House as President Obama met inside with congressional Republican leaders.
“I rise in opposition to the Republican Cut, Cap, and Balance Act. Republicans continue to play politics rather than do what is best for our country.
They are once again holding American families and businesses hostage by threatening to allow the United States to default on its debt unless their extreme ideological demands are met.
This plan is not the balanced approach that is best for our country. It ends the Medicare guarantee for seniors and slashes education and opportunity for the next generation of Americans.
Cut, cap and balance is bad for American families, bad for our businesses, and bad for the nation’s economic future.”
“This legislative monstrosity would undermine decades of government efforts to grow the middle class and provide a decent safety net for poor, elderly, and disabled Americans. Congressman Doyle observed after the vote. Given the fact that the number of seniors on Social Security and Medicare is expected to double in the coming years, capping federal spending at the levels set in H.R. 2560 would make cuts in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid inevitable.
What’s more, the bill would effectively prevent Congress from raising any revenues to help pay for those essential programs,” Congressman Doyle added. I’m never going to vote for a bill that makes it easier to cut Grandma’s Medicare than to raise Rupert Murdoch’s taxes.”
Representative Holden (D-17):
“I opposed the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011 because it is time Congress stops with the political theatre and gets to work on behalf of the American people. While I continue to support spending cuts that help rein in our federal deficit, the fact is this bill is unreasonable and impractical. With two weeks remaining for the United States to make good on our fiscal obligations, requiring the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment before raising the nation’s debt limit is both unrealistic and irresponsible.”
“Firstly, the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment before the House, H.J.Res. 1, will not receive two-thirds support in the House or Senate; even if it did, there is not enough time for three-fourths of the state legislatures to ratify it. In addition, the cap of 18% on federal spending by 2021 and every subsequent year is extremely shortsighted. This bill would put forth a budget that will negatively impact seniors, middle-class Americans, and communities throughout my district. It contains deeper cuts to Medicare than the Ryan budget and includes proposals to convert Medicare to vouchers and raises its eligibility age to sixty-seven while also raising the Social Security retirement age to seventy. It includes cuts to veterans’ medical care, homeland security initiatives, border protection, and education, as well as assistance to state and local governments for law enforcement, infrastructure improvements, housing, and community development.”
Representative Murphy (R-18):
“After trillion-dollar stimulus bills, bailouts and massive new entitlement programs, the American public doesn’t think it’s radical for the federal government to begin living within its means. Today, Congress heeded the public’s call for putting the country back on a fiscally-sound path, and ensuring the United States does not default on our obligations.
“If we don’t take bold action now, we’re not just ‘kicking the can down the road’ — we’re kicking the grenade down the road. And soon, it’s going to explode.
“Given that the national debt is growing by $58,000 a second, it’s no wonder that rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s are saying that federal spending reform must happen now. The Cut, Cap, and Balance Act puts in place a plan that reduces our debt, balances our budget, and makes an investment in our nation’s future. With the national debt nearly equal in value to our economy, job creators are keeping more than $2 trillion in capital on the sidelines because they know Washington will stick them with the $14.3 trillion tab. Passage of the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act is a message to employers, investors, and the 20 million Americans out of work or looking for more work: the House is taking aggressive steps to curb the unsustainable debt threatening to ruin our credit, slow economic growth, and drive up rates for all businesses and homeowners.”
Senator Pat Toomey:
“Today, my House colleagues have shown a willingness to raise the debt limit, but only if the president puts us on a path to a balanced budget. I applaud the House’s passage of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act and hope that the Senate will send this bill to the president’s desk,” Sen. Toomey said. “I find it hard to believe that the president would be so opposed to a path to a balanced federal budget that he would veto this legislation and reject the debt ceiling increase he claims is absolutely vital for the country.”