Mike Lee to push “Cut, Cap, and Balance”
Last year, House and Senate Republicans pushed a deficit reduction proposal, dubbed “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” which would have cut mandatory and discretionary spending, capped federal spending at 18% of GDP, and required passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment. The plan, which had the backing of several prominent groups in the conservative movement, passed in the House; but unfortunately, it failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Undeterred by the expected setback, several conservative members in both chambers have continued to push the idea. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a Tea Party favorite, announced on Wednesday that he is reintroducing an updated version of “Cut, Cap, and Balance”:
“The country is on an unsustainable fiscal path,” said Lee, a member of the Joint Economic Committee and author of the consensus Republican Balanced Budget Amendment. “Cut, Cap, Balance is the only plan with significant support in the House and Senate that will address our debt and deficits, control spending, and fundamentally change the way Washington does business.”
The legislation cuts $62 billion from discretionary spending in 2013, places caps on future spending over the next decade, and creates a glide path to balancing the budget by 2020. It also effectively “turns off” the sequester – the massive spending cuts to domestic and defense programs due to trigger at the end of the year – by amending the Budget Control Act and offsetting the cost of the sequester with other cuts.
The bill is an updated version of last year’s “Cut, Cap, Balance Act” and reflects new budget numbers. It currently has a growing list of 21 cosponsors in the Senate, and there are plans to introduce corresponding legislation in the House. In a CNN poll conducted when the bill was introduced last year, 66% of the country supported the Cut, Cap, Balance plan. The previous version of the plan passed easily in the House, but was then tabled by Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate.
“Congress has a spending problem and it’s our job to fix it. This plan does that,” said Lee. “It’s not right to ask the American people to pay for the debt Congress created, especially if it has not taken significant steps to reverse overspending. We have to identify our priorities, set responsible spending levels to meet them, and eliminate the trillion dollar deficits that are sapping the economy of precious resources. Cut, Cap, Balance moves us in the right direction so we can restore confidence in our economy, create jobs, and get the country moving again.”
It’s not clear that Senate GOP leadership is going to get behind “Cut, Cap, and Balance” in an election year, but given that nearly half of their caucus is backing the bill, they may have to at some point — whether it be this year, or next.
With members like Lee and others proving to be the conscience of the Republican caucus in the Senate, the bill provides a blueprint for what we may be able to expect if Republicans manage to win the net-four seats need to take control of the chamber this fall.