An attempt to move toward a balanced budget – as much money coming into government coffers as going out over the course of a given year – was defeated on Thursday in the Senate.
Rand Paul was, by Senate rules, allowed to introduce a budget because the leadership had not done so. His was a variant of the popularly-known (and notoriously pushed by Sean Hannity) Penny Plan, which calls for reducing spending by one penny out of every dollar in the current budget, then doing so again over the next five years. The resultant savings would have been estimated at $13 Trillion over ten years.
In an e-mail to Politico, Paul explained:
“This budget vote will be a litmus test for Republicans who claim to be conservative, but are only too happy to grow the federal government and increase our debt.”
It was no such thing. Had the vote been close, it might have achieved what Paul hoped; instead, with a “Yea” vote total of 21 and “Nay” of 76, Republican Senators were free to vote how they thought their constituents and donors would most like to see them vote, free of worry about the consequences.
Many of the Republican Senators might have felt the pressure to vote for it, had the whip count been close. Some of those who voted for it might have shifted to “no”, fearful of endangering their personal spending. Instead the vote tallies were useful only as political theater.
Mark Sanford has introduced a similar measure in the House. (Sanford)
The White House did not weigh in on the plan, although as an amendment to the White House-promoted budget, it is reasonable to assume they were not strongly in favor of it (although President Trump had also condemned the same budget he had praised, so Paul and Sanford had reason to hope he might promote their plan. He did not.) (CNN) A House vote on a balanced budget Amendment had already failed (Fox News).
The story here is that relatively minor cuts, such as shaving a penny off of every dollar for five years, are projected to save more than $13 Trillion. The budget is out of control and House, Senate and the Presidency – all Republicans and getting credit as Conservatives – do not care to reign it in.