House Votes to Bust Sequester's Spending Caps
On Thursday evening, the House of Representatives voted to adopt the Ryan-Murray budget and bust through the sequester spending caps and increase user fees. The vote was a lopsided 333-94. Among Republicans, 169 members voted for the budget and 63 voted against. Just 31 Democrats voted against the measure, after threatening for the most of the week to oppose the deal unless it extended unemployment benefits. The measure now goes to the Senate, which is expected to pass the deal sometime next week before leaving town for the year.
The deal, negotiated by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), increases spending in 2014 by more than $50 billion above current law. In 2015, the budget would increase by an additional $20 billion. This increased spending, which effectively suspends most of the mandated sequester cuts, is offset by higher government revenue through increased user fees and spending cuts. Half of these spending cuts, and all of the $23 billion in claimed deficit reduction, come 9 years from now, in 2022 and 2023.
There is almost no chance those cuts will materialize. This deal extends Washington's long tradition of increasing spending and tax today in exchange for promised "savings" in the future. These never happen. Between the time this deal was announced and when it reaches President Obama's desk, a "doc fix" will be added. That prevents a 20% reduction in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. The reduction was first passed in 1997, as part of a budget deal. It was the "future savings" to justify higher immediate spending. It as never been allowed to happen.
Before the vote, Speaker John Boehner lashed out at conservative groups for opposing the deal. He said they had lost all "credibility" for opposing a deal that went against Boehner's stated position two months ago. Boehner was against this deal before he was for it.
When Boehner was elected in 1990, the national debt was just over $3 trillion. Today, it is $17 trillion. Who has the credibility problem?