Last night, the House passed the so-called “Cut, Cap and Balance Act” in a largely symbolic 234-190 vote. Because of its cuts, the bill isn’t likely to make headway in the Democrat-dominated Senate, but what does the act aim to do and who among Florida’s congressional delegation voted for it?
The basics of the plan:
- Cut: Requires nearly $111 billion cuts in spending. Cuts would be made across the board, and would include programs like environmental preservation and medical research.
- Cap: Enforces major spending caps and across-the-board budget cuts in an effort to shrink federal spending to about 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product starting in 2015.
- Balance: Requires both Houses of Congress to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which will require a two-thirds majority vote in both Houses in order to raise taxes.
Critics of the bill argue that it will make it virtually impossible to raise taxes and revenue in the future and that it essentially targets the middle class, while preserving tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
From an Americans United for Change press release:
Not a single dime of deficit reduction in this plan comes from any increase in revenue. There is no reforming the tax code so millionaire hedge fund managers pay the same tax rates as the people who clean their offices. There is no closing tax loopholes that make it lucrative for companies to hide their assets in the Cayman Islands and ship our jobs to India. There is no end to the billions in subsidies we hand each year to immensely profitable oil companies. And of course, there is no raising the tax rate on multimillionaires.
Floridians who voted for the bill include Reps. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale; Steve Southerland, R-Panama City; Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota; and Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland. West later attacked Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Pembroke Pines, for her support of the bill, calling her “the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives” and telling her to “shut the heck up” in an email.
Presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul were among the nine Republicans to vote against it, along with 181 Democrats. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, also voted “no.” Mack implored his colleagues to join him in opposing the Act, arguing in a letter that now is not the right time to raise the debt ceiling.