Yesterday, the House Budget Committee approved The Reconciliation Act of 2010 — the place holder for the actual reconciliation bill — by a vote of 21 to 16 and sent the bill to the Rules Committee. Rules will take up the measure on Wednesday at 3:15pm and will insert the actual reconciliation package into the bill and draft the procedural motion outlining the rules for floor debate.
Last night members spent almost eight hours introducing motions instructing the chairman to take a certain negotiating position when he appears before Rules. At around 9:20pm, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) tried to substantiate the GOP motion to drop the health bill until the deficit is in order by pulling up a chart showing the Presidential Records on Budget Deficits.
Harper argued that Republicans secured a surplus in the mid 1990s by passing Clinton’s Welfare Reform Act and SCHIP legislation and claimed that health care reform would increase the deficits that began on September 11, 2001. “If you extrapolate a few years forward that red line would go down to the basement right now,” another Republican lawmaker (possibly Rep. Paul Ryan) remarked.
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), however, was having none of it. Scott asked staff to pull the chart back up and tore into Republicans for taking credit for balancing the budget:
SCOTT: Because you know, there is just amazing how the other side can take any credit for that bill. Their contribution to the blue when we passed it to begin with was without a single Republican vote, House or Senate. In 1993, not a single Republican vote, House or Senate. That is right, and that is how you created the blue….You take credit for his veto and if you want to know what would have happened if you had signed your budgets, we found out in 2001 when President Bush signed the budget and you saw what happened. You can’t blame 9/11 because the first tax-cut happen before 9/11 and you had gone to through to rob a cash surplus before 9/11. A second set of tax cuts happened after 9/11. You can’t a surprise that 9/11 had already happened because that was after 9/11.
Watch the exchange:
In 1993, Congress approved the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 with Vice President Gore casting the tie-breaking fifty-first vote. As Scott pointed out, not a single Republican votes for the act, which reduced the deficit by $504.8 billion over 10 year. Among other things, the act “created two new personal income tax rates and a new tax rate for corporations.”
Conversely, President Bush presided over the largest increase in the debt of any president in history. When he took office, “the national debt stood at $5.727 trillion.” In eight years, there has been an increase of over 70%. CAP’s Michael Ettlinger has calculated that “changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem,” while “only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 are attributable” to Obama’s policies.
As Scott concluded, “we are going to get the budget back under control but we can’t do it until we get the budget straight and health care is going to help because that is the biggest thing in terms of the problems with the budget.”