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Some follow-ups

1. The PAYGO amendment was defeated on a 50-50 vote last night. All Democrats voted for it, along with Republicans Chafee, Collins, Snowe, McCain, and Voinovich. If House and Senate Republicans can reach agreement on a budget resolution, they will now be free to push through further tax cuts without honestly describing the spending cuts or other tax increases that will be their consequence.

Opposing the amendment, Trent Lott argued that, "The problem is not tax cuts. The problem is we can't control our insatiable appetite for spending." Which is fair enough as a statement of preference for small government, but if that's the case, why not be willing to specify the spending he's willing to cut in exchange for tax cuts? You know the reason, but it's an outrage nonetheless.

The Senate today voted 52-48 to remove Medicaid cuts from the budget resolution, which makes it much less likely that they will reach an agreement with the House. But Senators Coleman, DeWine, Smith and Specter are now on record as voting for tax cuts that aren't paid for, and also against any specific cuts. That's an untenable and dishonest position.

2. Some people seemed to think I was being critical of Senator Baucus for his "Live Or Let Die" statement on tax policy. I was not. I was merely sympathizing with the difficulty of the poor legislative staffer or speechwriter who has to try to make that statement interesting -- or perhaps the Senator himself. I've been there. Sometimes it works, sometimes, not so much. But I can't get that damn song out of my head. -- duh-duh-duh/duh-duh-duh/DUH-DUH!

As Matt Singer writes in Left in the West, "Lately, Montana?s Senior Senator has been on a roll. He voted against Clear Skies, helping bottle it up in committee. He?s been leading the charge on Social Security, for which a lot of us here in Montana are grateful...He?s still a centrist, but he?s becoming an unapologetic defender of his beliefs."

That's very true, and a welcome development. I was amazed, and impressed a few months ago to learn that Baucus had hired as the Finance Committee's principal staffer on welfare issues someone who had been director of grassroots activist poor-people's group in Montana and a board member of the Western States Center, one of my favorite progressive organizations, and who had testified before the committee about her own experiences as a young mother who depended on welfare after escaping a violent marriage. Back when I worked on welfare issues on the Finance Committee, there was definitely no one with that kind of background working for any of the Senators, and it would have had a significant effect on the debate in 1996 if there was someone with either the activist background or who knew something about welfare other than what they learned at the JFK School. It's a small thing, but it said a lot to me that Baucus would look for someone with that background.

3. You read it here second -- Wolfowitz and the World Bank, two weeks ago:

Hey Europe, just kidding!

Posted by Mark Schmitt on March 17, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

That's a shame.

Too bad Paygo didn't have a higher profile in the news. I'd presumed, having seen nothing about it, that the vote was delayed.

Well, OK. The Senate split 50/50 on this, and split similarly on ANWR. Were the votes identical?

I guess the gig is now to get at least one thing into the budget that one of the folks who voted against Paygo will consider a deal killer, so the Senate won't pass a budget. What can that be?

Posted by: ChasHeath | Mar 17, 2005 10:29:13 PM

"If House and Senate Republicans can reach agreement on a budget resolution, they will now be free to push through further tax cuts without honestly describing the spending cuts or other tax increases that will be their consequence."

Yep. We're screwed.

Astonishing, isn't it?

How many more budget years of this nonsense can we manage to endure before the revenue bleeding and concurrent deficit spending attract enough global attention to spring a leak in the dam?

We're on the slope. No question.

Posted by: Movie Guy | Mar 18, 2005 1:49:01 AM

Was it coincidence that Senate Republicans first voted for less tax cuts than Bush wanted, then voted 50-50 with Cheney breaking the tie against including revenue in the equation of pay as you go budget balancing, and once that was settled, voted for more tax cuts than even Bush asked for?

Seniors, cash those Social Security checks early, to make sure they don't bounce!

Posted by: ChasHeath | Mar 18, 2005 11:57:15 AM

The votes of Senators Coleman, DeWine, Smith and Specter are untenable and dishonest, but... I'd bet their votes also reflect the position of their constituents. In fact, I'd bet they reflect the position of the majority of the country. Just because it doesn't add up, doesn't mean it isn't the people's will.

Posted by: Ravi | Mar 19, 2005 1:45:07 AM