A $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan modeled after the one written by the heads of President Barack Obama’s debt commission is headed for a U.S. House vote more than a year after the deficit panel folded.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has resurrected the Simpson-Bowles plan and will offer it this week when lawmakers consider competing budget plans for the coming fiscal year.
“The budget debate so far has been completely partisan, and our proposal is the only one with support from both parties,” said Representative Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat.
Ohio Republican Steve LaTourette, another House cosponsor, said: “I’m tired of passing bills in the House, watching them die in the Senate and pretending that counts as success. Americans want us to work together like adults.”
Lawmakers will consider seven budget proposals this week, including one written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. Among the others are plans from Democratic leaders, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Republican Study Committee and the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The administration’s debt commission deadlocked in late 2010, so the plan written by former Senator Alan Simpson and President Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles, was never put to a vote in Congress.
Not all of the plan’s supporters said they think it should be put to a vote. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, who has worked privately to build support for Simpson-Bowles, said election-year pressures would force many lawmakers to vote against the plan, which in turn could make the proposal harder to resurrect later.
Best Chance to Succeed
“If we really want Simpson-Bowles to succeed -- which I do -- what is the timing that gives the best chance of succeeding?” said Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat. “It needs to be a vote after the election. I think a vote before the election might actually hurt the chances.”
Asked whether he thought putting the plan to a vote now is a good idea, Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said, “Time will tell.” He said “it would be great to have more time to build the case” though “I also understand the frustrations of continuing to wait.”
Cooper said: “It’s never a good time to bring this up.”
“When is an ideal time to bring up something like this? I wish it had been brought up a year ago,” he said. “Lots of folks have paid lip service to bipartisanship. This is a chance for them to prove it.”