Balanced Budget Amendment “Deeply Flawed”

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives failed in an attempt to pass a proposed constitutional amendment requiring the federal government to balance its budget. Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter says the amendment was “politically motivated and deeply flawed.”

If this balanced budget amendment passed, small businesses and the economy would suffer because people would be laid off and there would be less purchasing power. Programs such as Medicare and health care for children, etc., would be severely cut. If our nation experienced a nuclear accident or financially devastating tornado or hurricane, Congress would have to either slash essential programs further, or raise taxes to pay for the disaster, or just be unable or unwilling to help.

Here’s the saddest part of the story. Republicans knew all this before the vote, but only a few, such as Paul Ryan, had the intellectual honesty to vote no. Republicans got to pretend that they were controlling spending, while the “bad guys” – the Democrats – refused to.

Congress needs to create jobs and work on real policy, and take the politically tough votes to find savings and increase revenue. They shouldn’t be hiding behind a bill that they neither believed in nor thought would pass.

WaPo: As N.H. Goes, So Goes the U.S. House

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake selects the Granite State as one of the ten states that will determine if Democrats retake the U.S. House next year.

Both New Hampshire seats went Democratic in 2006 when the party won the majority and then flipped to Republican when the GOP retook the House in 2010. And both will remain competitive next year, no matter how they are drawn. If Democrats win one of them, they’ve had a good night. If they win both, they’ve probably reclaimed the House again.

Can Democrats Win Back the U.S. House in 2012?

While there is no historical precedent for the party of a president seeking reelection gaining more than 15 House seats (Democrats need 24 to retake control), Jonathan Chait points out two unique factors that could invalidate the historical precedents in 2012.

The first is the extraordinary age schism of the electorate. Democrats have grown highly dependent on young voters, who are the least likely to turn out for midterm elections, while the GOP base is increasingly dependent on the elderly, who turn out at very high rates. Obama swept in a large cohort of House members on the strength of the youth vote, which stayed home in 2010. But if those young voters return in 2012, then the tide could shift right back….

The second factor is the power of the House Republican budget. It is wildly unpopular and gives Democrats a strong message to unseat incumbents. It’s quite unusual for the Congressional majority to embrace radical, unpopular legislation in lockstep, so historical precedents may not apply here.

Frank Guinta: Ryan Budget Not Extreme Enough

Before the House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed 2012 federal budget today, the House voted on an alternative budget offered by the Republican Study Committee

[The] Republican Study Committee’s alternative budget [is] a radical plan that annihilates the social contract in America by putting the GOP budget on steroids. Deeper tax cuts for the wealthy, more severe entitlement rollbacks.

The RSC budget proposes huge cuts in domestic spending, $9.5 trillion over the next decade compared to $6.2 trillion cut by the Ryan plan. It delays coverage for Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries under age 60 today by gradually moving the eligibility age up to age 70. It makes the privatized Medicare program optional. It transforms Medicaid into a block-grant program that would receive even less funding than the Ryan plan.

Rep. Frank Guinta today voted in favor of the Republican Study Committee alternative budget.

Change of Tea Party Heart for Guinta?

As a congressional candidate, Rep. Frank Guinta promised to join the House Tea Party Caucus. After all, he’s got the credentials: he wants to abolish the IRS, the Federal Reserve, the Departments of Education and Energy, as well as Social Security and Medicare. But yesterday when the caucus held its first meeting of the 112th Congress, Guinta was nowhere to be found.

Could it be he’s cast his lot with the House leadership over Tea Party Queen Michele Bachmann? After all, he did just break with his Tea Party brethren over funding for the F-35 spare engine. You remember, the multi-billion-dollar military jet engine the Pentagon says it doesn’t need and the defense secretary calls a wasteful boondoggle — but one that would employ General Electric and Rolls-Royce workers in the home districts of Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Moody’s Warns of GOP’s Job-Killing Budget Cuts

Mark Zandi, Chief Economist for Moody’s Analytics and former economic adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign, warns the spending cuts proposed by House Republicans will cost 700,000 jobs by the end of 2012.

If fully adopted, the cuts would shave almost half a percentage point from real GDP growth in 2011 and another 0.2 percentage point in 2012. There would be almost 400,000 fewer U.S. jobs by the end of 2011 than without the cuts and some 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012.

This comes on the heels of a Goldman Sachs report estimating that the House proposal would cut economic growth by about two percent of GDP.

Mapping the Partisan Vote Change from 2008 to 2010

Neil Stevens maps the partisan change in the House of Representative vote from 2008 to 2010. Red districts went more Republican in 2010, blue districts went more Democratic. Bright blue and bright red districts saw large shifts, darker, purplish seats had smaller shifts.

Republicans Don’t Care About the Deficit

The incoming Republican majority has proposed "strict" new rules for the U.S. House of Representatives:

On the spending front, Republicans plan to implement a series of rules called CUT/GO — a conservative answer to the PAY/GO rules instituted by Democrats. Under CUT/GO, increases in mandatory spending would have to be offset by spending cuts in other programs.

Under CUT/GO, offsets could not be achieved by raising taxes, according to the summary.

Jonathan Chait breaks it down:

The old rules, created under the highly successful 1990 deficit reduction deal between George Bush and (mostly) Democrats in Congress, any new entitlement spending or tax cuts had to be offset with entitlement cuts or higher taxes.

[T]he GOP new rules mean that new tax cuts do not require any offsets at all. Which is to say, they are replacing a rule that prevented policies that add to the deficit with a rule that enables policies that add to the deficit. They may call that “strict,” but it is the opposite.

Bonus Quote of the Day: Essence of the Two Chambers

The reason why senators have found the tax deal (and also the deficit commission’s proposal) easier to swallow, and why House members haven’t, hits at the essence of the two chambers. The Senate, whose members represent entire states and which needs 60 votes to pass almost anything, is all about compromise and deal making; the House, whose members represent mostly safe congressional districts, is much more polarized.

First Read, on the tax cut compromise vote

Can Dems Retake U.S. House in 2012?

Could Democrats take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012? Mark Gersh, Washington Director of the National Committee for an Effective Congress, says it’s possible.

Here’s why: this year, 25 races were decided by 3 percent or less in the major-party vote share (13 Democratic and 12 Republican) pending recounts and final vote totals. Another 30 were decided by three percent - eight percent (18 Democratic and 17 Republican). Forty-two more races were decided by just 8 percent - 12 percent (25 Democratic and 17 Republican).

So overall, 56 Democratic and 52 Republicans won with majorities of 56 percent or less, and those races comprise 23 percent of the entire House. Add the unpredictable effects of redistricting to the 2012 equation, and the prospect of a 4th straight election with a turnover of 20 or seats is plausible.

Miscellany Blue