Tomorrow’s House vote is going to be epic, my friends. Epic.
The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would pare just $352 million from the deficit through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending…
A separate CBO analysis provided to lawmakers but not released publicly says that $5.7 billion in savings claimed by cutting bonuses to states enrolling more children and reducing the amount of money available to subsidize health care cooperatives authorized under the new health care law won’t produce a dime of actual savings. CBO believes they are simply cuts to spending authority that is unlikely to be used anyway.
But those cuts to mandatory benefit programs, while producing no deficit savings, can be claimed under budget rules to pay for spending increases elsewhere in the legislation. All told, $17.8 million in such savings is claimed but just a tiny portion of it would actually reduce the deficit…
Still, the measure halts and begins to reverse large increases for domestic agency operating budgets that have been awarded during Obama’s first two years in office.
The deal does eliminate $38 billion in “new spending authority,” but as we learned yesterday in agonizing detail, spending “authority” and actual spending are two very different things. So to sum up: In less than a week, we’ve gone from $61 billion in cuts to $38 billion in cuts to $15 billion in real cuts to $352 million in deficit reduction this year, which is less than one percent of the number agreed to in the budget deal. I can’t help but suspect that tea partiers might feel a tad … antsy about that trend.
Tim Pawlenty issued a statement earlier this afternoon urging congressional Republicans to reject the budget deal tomorrow:
The more we learn about the budget deal the worse it looks. When you consider that the federal deficit in February alone was over $222 billion, to have actual cuts less than the $38 billion originally advertised is just not serious. The fact that billions of dollars advertised as cuts were not scheduled to be spent in any case makes this budget wholly unacceptable. It’s no surprise that President Obama and Senator Reid forced this budget, but it should be rejected. America deserves better.
That’s a nifty way to polish his fiscal conservative cred with the base, but as of last night Cantor was insisting that they have the votes in the House. Maybe that’ll change after the CBO numbers start circulating, but if I had to bet, I’d still bet that it’ll pass. The conversation’s already moved on to bigger money, partly thanks to the erupting war between Obama and Ryan over entitlements and partly to the chess match between Democrats and the GOP over the debt ceiling. And because most of the public’s already moved on from the shutdown drama, if the Republican caucus forced one now, they’d inevitably get more blame than they would have if the shutdown had happened last week. So, yes, it’ll probably pass — but by how much is anyone’s guess. The comments are open for your predictions!
Update: Philip Klein’s headline says it all: “Conservatives should no longer be happy about budget deal.”
Unfortunately, it now appears that the new Republican majority has done what it attacked Democrats for doing when they controlled the House. They negotiated a back room deal, didn’t release the details until 2 a.m., and the more we have of the details, the more we find out that the actual deal is filled with accounting gimmicks. Not a good way to earn back the trust of conservatives who grew disillusioned with the GOP the last time they controlled the House.
Update: NRO reports that Boehner, Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy were still busy making the pitch as of this morning. Freshman Tim Huelskamp, noting that $352 million is less than $2 per U.S. citizen, is unpersuaded:
“In the last two hours, the country has borrowed about $352 million, so we’re making no progress in getting out of the red,” Huelskamp said. “The American people are looking for meaningful reductions that actually will make a difference to our $1.6 trillion deficit and our $14.3 trillion of debt.”
Huelskamp told National Review Online that he had basically decided when the deal was first announced that he would vote against it, but said other members were probably having second thoughts in light of the CBO report. “It’ll be interesting to see how folks vote when the cuts in here weren’t really cuts,” he said. “That will upset folks back home when they look at it. They thought freshmen were up here to change the way Washington operates, but this is the same-old same-old they’ve been doing for years.”