The House Thursday passed the Republican-backed budget plan for 2013 spending levels after soundly defeating a half-dozen other proposals, including President Barack Obama’s plan, which was unanimously defeated.
The Republican version passed on a mostly party line vote of 228 yeas and 191 nays Thursday, and was authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R –Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee.
“We’re leading, we’re passing, we’re proposing a solution,” Ryan said.
“They’re choosing the next election over the next generation,” Ryan said of the president’s plan. “Soon, those empty promises are going to become broken promises. It’s time to be honest about the situation we are in and start fixing the problems.”
Obama’s budget plan was offered as a substitute amendment by a Republican in an election year ploy to embarrass Democrats. It was soundly defeated with 0 yeas and 414 nays.
“This is a landmark document for Democrats as we go into an election year,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R–S.C.), who said he sponsored the president’s plan “in a pique of bipartisanship” after Democrats declined to do so.
“It occurred to me something was missing from the debate. Clearly, it must have been an oversight,” Mulvaney said.
Obama’s budget contained $47 trillion in government spending over the next decade and proposed to increase taxes by $1.9 trillion, and the gross debt at the end of fiscal year 2022 would stand at $25.9 trillion.
“To his credit, the president submitted a budget, to his shame, it adds $11 trillion to our national debt,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R –Tex.), chairman of the House Republican Conference.
The problem with the president’s plan — counting on tax hikes on the rich to pay for unrestrained government spending — “is that sooner or later you run out of rich people,” Hensarling said.
Democrats said they voted against the amendment because it only contained the president’s budget numbers, and not the phonebook-sized documents of policies that accompanied Obama’s original submittal to Congress.
“The president’s budget takes a balanced approach to the deficit,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D –Md.), ranking member of the House Budget Committee.
Ryan later warned: “When you hear the word balance … hold on to your wallet — it means tax increases.”
“You literally cannot tax your way out of this problem,” Ryan said. “The problem we have here is a spending problem, that is why we propose to cut spending.”
Rep. Tom Graves (R –Ga.) said the president’s plan was a “vision of debt and dependency.”
“If it was such a good document, why didn’t (Democrats) present it?” Graves said. “You would think the House chamber would be full with Democrats lining up to speak and defend the president’s budget, but there has been much of an exodus here.”
Ryan’s budget proposal would set discretionary spending at $1.028 trillion for next year and eliminates the current $15 trillion deficit by the year 2040. It would also repeal ObamaCare, make changes in the tax code, and reform Medicare.
Democrats said their main objection to the Ryan budget was his Medicare plan and that it would end the Medicare guarantee of health care insurance for seniors, with costs now reaching $500 billion a year.
“I’m told it polls well if you’re trying to scare senior citizens,” Ryan said. “That this will end Medicare as we know it is the lie of the year.”
Democrats described the Republican budget as containing irresponsible cuts that were “draconian,” “reckless,” “extremely partisan,” and “shameful” that would end up starving children, robbing seniors and put an end to Medicare.
“They want to give my 98-year-old mother a voucher and tell her to go figure it out,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D–Conn.). “This is Robin Hood in reverse.”
Added Louise Slaughter (D–N.Y.): “The Ryan Budget is morally bankrupt and does not reflect the vision of a better America.”
Van Hollen said the Republican budget is the same economic policy that got the country into stagnation and decline. “It is a path to greater prosperity, if you are already wealthy,” Van Hollen said. “Their plan rigs the rules in favor of very wealthy special interests.”
The Democrats’ budget plan offered by Van Hollen emphasized job creation, put an end to additional tax breaks for special interests and wealthy Americans, but contained no Medicare reforms. It would spend $3.7 trillion but did not explain how it could balance the budget over time.
The Democrats’ budget was defeated on a vote of 163 yeas to 262 nays.
The conservative Republican Study Committee offered a budget to freeze spending at $931 billion until the federal budget is balanced, with a target balanced budget date set at 2017. It was defeated on a vote of 136 yeas to 285 nays.
“This budget actually balances, the president’s does not,” said Mulvaney, who also sponsored that substitute budget.
“If you borrow money with the intention of paying it back, it’s debt. If you borrow money never intending to pay it back, that is theft. And that’s what the president’s budget represents,” Mulvaney said.
The Congressional Black Caucus offered its own budget, which it said would result in saving more than $115 billion the first year, but still make investments in education, job training, transportation and infrastructure, while protecting Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D–Calif.) called theirs a “moral document” that embodies the nation’s values. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D–Tex.) said it would take poor people “off the trash heap of despair, and let them walk into glory.” It was defeated on a vote of 107 yeas to 314 nays.
The only budget measure touted with bipartisan support was a deal first proposed by the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction committee, but it suffered one of the biggest vote failures, 38 yeas to 382 nays.
The budget proposed by the Democrat’s Congressional Progressive Caucus was also defeated on a wide margin of 78 yeas to 346 nays.
Congressional budgets are nonbinding agreements that set the guidelines for yearly spending and tax priorities.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D –Nev.) says he has no intention of bringing the Republican plan up for a vote, which would leave Congress to operate without a budget for the third year in a row.
House Speaker John Boehner was asked during a news conference before the Republican budget vote if he thought the various budgets offered this week would be tossed around as political footballs before the next election.
Boehner recalled a recent disagreement he had with Obama, and how it would be solved: “The president said ‘John, this is what elections are for.’ Yes, Mr. President, you are correct. This is what elections are for.”