The House Republican budget, as the GOP has been hinting it would, reneges on the deal made to avoid a debt ceiling calamity back in August. The bill to raise the debt ceiling, known as the Budget Control Act, set a level for discretionary spending for 2013. However, the GOP budget cuts $19 billion below that level.
Since the current round of government funding runs out in September, the GOP’s decision to cut deeper than the Budget Control Act sets up another round of budget brinkmanship, with a government shutdown as a possible consequence. But back in September, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) seemed to believe that such brinkmanship should be avoided, saying during a pen and pad briefing that the GOP should stick to the spending level agreed to in August, at least when it came to a continuing resolution that was under consideration at the time:
Q: On the CR next week, will you do it at the level that you agreed to in August, the 1.043?
CANTOR: As Republicans, we believe strongly we ought to be reducing spending more than we have been able to. The other side has demonstrated unwillingness to join us in that. We did reach an agreement at the CR level and I am supportive of a CR being written at that level.
Q: So you would not go below it?
CANTOR: I think my colleague here would say we would try always to go below it. But the risk of bringing about brinksmanship or another potential shutdown is not something that we need right now, it is not something that would be helpful, that would create jobs and regain confidence, which is why I have taken the position I have.
During a December press conference, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) also promised that “the 1.043 [trillion] is going to happen,” referring to the spending level set by the Budget Control Act. But in the intervening few months, it seems that the GOP leadership has decided that yet another drive at the edge of the proverbial shutdown cliff is preferable to abiding by the terms of a deal passed just last year.