The Corner

‘Political Feasibility’

After summarizing the various budget proposals voted on in Congress over the past two days, the liberal Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget offers this concluding note:

It is great to see enthusiastic involvement in the budget process from members of Congress who represent very different parts of the political spectrum. Of course, none of the budgets above (excluding the Simpson-Bowles one) contain one of the more important elements — political feasibility — that we will need to have to see a major deficit reduction plan passed. Still, each of these groups should be applauded for outlining their own visions in a budget resolution.

Well let’s see. Here are the House vote counts for the different budget proposals taken up yesterday and today:

  1. House Budget Committee (Ryan) budget: Passed 228-191

  2. Democratic substitute budget: Failed 163-262

  3. Republican Study Committee budget: Failed 136-285

  4. Congressional Black Caucus budget: Failed 107-314

  5. Progressive Caucus budget: Failed 78-346

  6. Cooper/LaTourette (Simpson-Bowles) budget: Failed 38-382

  7. Obama budget: Failed 0-414

So while it’s true that the Simpson-Bowles budget got more votes than the Obama budget (which got zero votes), it got fewer votes than five other proposals, garnering only 8% of the House. That hardly makes it the most politically feasible option. And of course it’s not only politically but also substantively inadequate: it completely ignores the growth of health-care costs, which is the chief driver of our fiscal problem. Its fundamental premise is basically the Obama administration’s approach to the “grand bargain” talks, which was that they will negotiate about the size of any tax increases provided that Obamacare is kept in place and Medicare reform is off the table. How exactly is that feasible?

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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