By large mar­gins, House re­jects Bowles-simp­son, Obama bud­gets

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Bowles-simp­son deficit-re­duc­tion plan went down to a crush­ing de­feat in the House late Wed­nes­day night in a vote that dam­ages the one bi­par­ti­san pro­posal that just a few months ago had seemed like a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to the coun­try’s debt woes.

The 382-38 de­feat, with just 16 Repub­li­cans and 22 Democrats vot­ing for it, marks a bad end to what be­gan nearly two years ago, when Pres­i­dent Obama tapped for­mer White House Chief of Staff Er­sk­ine B. Bowles, a Demo­crat, and for­mer Sen. Alan K. Simp­son, a Re­pub­li­can, to lead a deficit-re­duc­tion com­mit­tee.

Their re­port has popped up in ev­ery deficit dis­cus­sion since then, but had never got­ten a vote in ei­ther cham­ber un­til this week, when op­po­nents pre­vailed.

“This doesn’t go big. This doesn’t tackle the prob­lem. This doesn’t do the big things,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Re­pub­li­can and chair­man of the House Bud­get Com­mit­tee. “You can never get the debt un­der con­trol if you don’t deal with our health care en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams.”

The de­bate came as the House worked its way through its fis­cal year 2013 bud­get plan, which Mr. Ryan wrote.

The Bowles-simp­son plan was of­fered as an al­ter­na­tive on the cham­ber floor.

Min­utes ear­lier, the House also de­feated Mr. Obama’s own bud­get, sub­mit­ted last month, on a 414-0 vote ar­ranged by Repub­li­cans to em­bar­rass the pres­i­dent and of­fi­cially shelve his plan.

“It’s not a cha­rade. It’s not a gim­mick — un­less what the pres­i­dent sent us is the same,” said Rep. Mick Mul­vaney, South Carolina Re­pub­li­can, who spon­sored Mr. Obama’s pro­posal for pur­poses of the de­bate. “I would en­cour­age the Democrats to em­brace this land­mark Demo­crat doc­u­ment and sup­port it. Per­son­ally, I will be vot­ing against it.”

The House also de­feated an al­ter­na­tive of­fered by the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus that would have in­cluded $4 tril­lion in ad­di­tional tax in­creases on top of those Mr. Obama pro­posed, and used that money to boost spend­ing on do­mes­tic pro­grams. That plan was killed 314-107.

But the Bowles-simp­son plan was the most an­tic­i­pated vote of the evening, earn­ing its first-ever vote in ei­ther cham­ber.

“There’s a con­sen­sus in Amer­ica we have to re­duce our deficit,” said Rep. Robert E. An­drews, New Jer­sey Demo­crat. “Most of it should be by cut­ting spend­ing, and some of it should be in rev­enue con­tri­bu­tion by the wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans.”

The plan was spon­sored by Rep. Jim Cooper, Ten­nessee Demo­crat, and Rep. Steven C. Latourette, Ohio Re­pub­li­can, and was backed by Mr. Bowles and Mr. Simp­son, who said it faith­fully rep­re­sented their goals.

But it was at­tacked by those on both ends of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, leav­ing the two chief spon­sors to de­fend them­selves. Mr. Latourette listed a se­ries of at­tacks he said were un­true, adding af­ter each: “False. Your pants are on fire.”

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