Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2011

BOTH SPENDING PLANS FAIL TO GARNER 60 SENATE VOTES.... As of late last week, leaders from both parties and both chambers agreed to a next step in the budget fight. The Senate would hold two votes -- one on the House Republican plan, featuring $61 billion in cuts, and on the White House plan, featuring $10 billion in cuts. Both would need 60 votes, and neither would reach that threshold.

This afternoon, that's exactly what happened.

Senators voted largely along party lines Wednesday afternoon to reject a House-passed proposal to cut an additional $57 billion in federal spending this year.

The vote was 44 to 56. All Democrats, and two independents who caucus with the Democrats, voted against it. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also voted against it.

Here's the roll call on the vote. Soon after, the Democratic alternative failed on a 42-to-58 vote.

At this point, the failures of the bills were basically a formality that the Senate needed to get out of the way. The point is to now return to the negotiating table, letting House Republicans know their plan can't pass as it currently exists, and the White House's alternative can't, either.

Just a reminder: if yet another deal isn't reached by a week from Friday, the government shuts down.

And while today's outcome was inevitable, what I found most interesting was how the so-called "moderates" voted. In fact, I assume they might ultimately regret it.

We're talking about the House GOP plan, word for word, letter for letter. Three right-wing Republicans in the Senate voted against it, but only because they thought it wasn't quite brutal enough towards working families.

But the plan the rest of the Senate GOP caucus voted for is a genuine travesty. It features deep cuts in areas such as education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security, all of which is projected to cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs. It slashes student loans, environmental protections, domestic security and law enforcement, food safety, science, health care, transportation, preparing workers for new careers, etc.

Polls show the American mainstream wanting nothing to do with such a plan. And yet, Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) all voted this, basically because their party told them they had to.

This one vote will provide the DSCC fodder for dozens of campaign ads. If the bill was going down anyway, there's no reason for these folks to throw their support behind a plan they know is bad for the country and their constituents.

Steve Benen 4:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (11)

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I'm not a fan of the White House budget that cuts $10 million when unemployment is nearly 9 percent. There are plenty of places to cut without cutting jobs, and we could reallocate that money to creating jobs.

That said, it looks like about 9 Democrats voted to block on up or down vote on the Democratic budget (more examples of the filibuster being alive and well).

Could it be that conserva-Dems want even bigger cuts? Are Dems having to negotiate with their own caucus before negotiating with the GOP? If so, a little tough-love might be in order.

It bears repeating: It's the jobs, stupid.

Posted by: Chris on March 9, 2011 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Trapped in a corner, these Republican throw-backs are going to savagely hurt someone soon!

Republicans wrecking our country! Republicans wrecking our economy! Republicans wrecking our sense of balance and decency as a people!

A vote for the Republicans is a vote against democracy! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 9, 2011 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thank Gawd(?) there is a slim majority in the Senate(?)..

All of these people should be fired, including the Democrats; Bernie Sanders can stay (I), hell, he can become king of America for all I care any more. I want these other bugs either squashed or completely marginalized. They are not legislators, they are clowns and the circus is over!

Posted by: Trollop on March 9, 2011 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Can't improve on Kevo's comment, ditto!

Posted by: Kathryn on March 9, 2011 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve -- please explain. I see Carl Levin, Bernie Sanders, and Herb Kohl, along with some Southern and Western Democrats, voting against what you call the "Democratic alternative." What's going on here? Why did it have such strong opposition? WTF?

Posted by: David in NY on March 9, 2011 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

Was this a special order vote? Why did it need 60? I'm assuming you are correct in saying they voted on the bill and not a cloture vote.

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

well, i won't speak for bernie sanders, but i have a pretty good idea why he would have voted against this plan.

first, his favorite line is, "you don't try to solve the problem of the deficit on the backs of the poor and the middle class." this plan included far too many cuts in health care programs, education programs and the like.

second, he has always railed against subsidies for big oil, huge loopholes for corporations, and similar giveaways to the wealthy who don't need it. on the same lines, he feels that taxes on the wealthy should be increased so that they are paying their fair share. i'm sure this plan did none of this.

i admire his position.

Posted by: just bill on March 9, 2011 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

This one vote will provide the DSCC fodder for dozens of campaign ads. -- Steve Benen

When did you change your name from "Steve" to "Polyanna"?

Posted by: exlibra on March 9, 2011 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

How does anything get passed with the current make up of Congress?

Posted by: Vince on March 9, 2011 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

with the current make up of congress, maybe it's better that nothing gets passed.

Posted by: just bill on March 9, 2011 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, this will provide precious fodder for Democratic campaign ads, which will go unmade in the name of keeping our powder dry.

Posted by: Big River Bandido on March 10, 2011 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK



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