Senate Dems Aren’t Fans of ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’

by Andrew Stiles

Senate Democrats told reporters Wednesday that they will do everything in their power to make sure the House-passed “Cut, Cap, and Balance” legislation fails in the upper chamber. They simply won’t support a plan that, in the words of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) “would cut and cap the hopes and dreams of our seniors, of our children [and] our middle class families.” 

Boxer claimed (incorrectly) that the House bill caps federal spending at 18.5 percent of GDP (it’s actually 19.9 percent). That would bring federal spending to its lowest levels since 1965, which, as Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.) conclusively pointed out, “was 46 years ago!” and before the creation of Medicare. Entitlement programs, they argue, will be eliminated under “Cut, Cap, and Balance” — even though the plan includes no immediate changes to these programs — hence the slogan plastered on their giant cue cards: “Cut, Cap, and Kill Medicare.”

Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) lamented that the “so-called” balanced-budget amendment called for in the legislation “would make it all but impossible to raise revenues in the future” and inhibit the federal government’s “power to respond to the needs of our country” (by spending more money).

Republicans have finally lost it, they all agreed. If the Paul Ryan budget wasn’t proof enough, “Cut, Cap, and Balance” was an all-out declaration of war against the young, the old, the middle-aged, homeless kittens, and anyone who doesn’t run a hedge fund. Harkin offered this sobering assessment: “The sad reality is that America no longer has a two-party system. One of our two parties has morphed into a kind of a cult, driven by a singular fixation and obsession: preserving and expanding tax breaks for the wealthy at all costs.”

When asked about the prospects for the plan unveiled by the “Gang of Six” on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) hedged. “Anytime that Democrats and Republicans can come together on something here, it’s a good thing,” he said, pointing out that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) was meeting with Gang member Mark Warner (D., Va.) to discuss the options for including elements of the plan in a package to raise the debt ceiling by August 2. “We have to meet that deadline,” Schumer added. He predicted that the Senate would vote on “Cut, Cap, and Balance” this Saturday, if not sooner.