Senate votes down deficit-cutting commission

Yesterday, while debating a bill to raise the debt ceiling, the Senate rejected an amendment to "establish a Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action, to assure the long-term fiscal stability and economic security of the Federal Government of the United States, and to expand future prosperity and growth for all Americans."

President Barack Obama supported creating that commission, which is the brainchild of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad. The goal is to find some way to get big Social Security and Medicare cuts through Congress. Don't get me started on why a Democratic president and a bunch of Democratic senators are so keen on cutting the most successful programs Democrats have ever enacted.

Anyway, Conrad's idea was for the commission to work out a comprehensive deficit reduction strategy, which Congress would be not be empowered to amend before voting on it. Two decades ago, a similar procedure was developed for recommending military base closings to Congress.

Conrad's amendment failed on a bipartisan 53-46 vote. 36 Democrats, 16 Republicans and Joe Lieberman voted for creating the deficit reduction commission, while 22 Democrats, 23 Republicans and Bernie Sanders voted no (roll call here). Bloomberg News reported,

Conrad’s idea was attacked from the left and right, with groups such as the Washington-based anti-tax Americans for Tax Reform saying it would mean higher taxes while the AFL-CIO and NAACP said it would lead to cuts in federal benefits.

It was also opposed by lawmakers who lead congressional committees with authority over tax and spending programs. Among them are Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Tom Harkin of Iowa, head of the health-care panel.

Senate Republican Conference Chair Lamar Alexander told Politico that Obama needs to "produce a Democratic majority in favor of" this idea if he wants more Republicans to vote for it.

During tonight's State of the Union address, Obama is expected to announce plans to create his own deficit reduction commission. Bloomberg noted yesterday that "Such a panel’s recommendations ordinarily could be ignored by lawmakers, although Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, is trying to negotiate an agreement to guarantee a vote."

Too bad the wrong North Dakota Democrat is retiring from the Senate.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

Tags: deficit, entitlements, Entitlement Reform, Social Security, Medicare, Barack Obama, Kent Conrad (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

Baucus Amendment 3300

Baucus slipped in an amendment to ensure that proposed changes to Social Security itself wouldn't be subject to the fast track provisions and I hear that passed unanimously. Whether that would apply to other commissions going forward is a good question.

Baucus did us no favors on health care but he seems to have his eyes wide open on Social Security, so I am breathing a little easier.

by Bruce Webb 2010-01-27 11:08AM | 0 recs
RE: Baucus Amendment 3300

He would have done better to let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices as a way to reduce costs without cutting benefits, like any commission of this type will propose.

by desmoinesdem 2010-01-27 11:13AM | 0 recs
He triangulating like Clinton did.

The only problem with that is, Clinton threw the Democratic Congress under the bus and in the process  opened the door for the Republican Revolution. With Obama spouiting this new line of " I'm not worried about gettig re-elected", where does that leave this Democratic Congress?  

by xodus1914 2010-01-27 11:18AM | 0 recs
RE: He triangulating like Clinton did.

Under the bus. But it's not like they don't deserve to be there. Stupak-pPitts and Libercare saw to that.

by vecky 2010-01-27 08:23PM | 0 recs
53-47...

So it failed becasue of the fillibuster?

by vecky 2010-01-27 08:22PM | 0 recs

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