Wash. Post covered moderate Republicans' alternative budget, ignored Democratic substitute

››› ››› JOSH KALVEN

The Washington Post reported on House Republicans' passage of a $2.8 trillion budget proposal, the GOP divide over the spending plan, and an alternative budget blueprint put forward by moderate Republicans. But the Post ignored entirely an alternative budget proposed by House Democrats, which would have restored GOP-proposed cuts to social services and reinstated the pay-as-you-go rule that Republicans let expire in 2002.

In a May 19 Washington Post article on House Republicans' passage of a $2.8 trillion budget proposal, staff writer Shailagh Murray reported on the dissent among GOP lawmakers over the spending plan and detailed an alternative budget blueprint put forward by moderate Republicans. But Murray ignored entirely an alternative budget proposed by House Democrats, which would have restored GOP-proposed cuts to social services and reinstated the pay-as-you-go rule that Republicans let expire in 2002.

The House approved the GOP-sponsored Fiscal Year 2007 budget resolution on May 18 by a vote of 218-210. House Democrats voted unanimously to reject the bill, while all but 12 Republicans voted in favor. The budget plan included $167 billion in cuts to domestic discretionary programs over five years. As the progressive Center for Budget and Policy Priorities noted in a report on the House budget plan, despite these spending restrictions, the tax cuts it included would result in increased deficits:

The savings from these program reductions would not, however, be used for deficit reduction. They would instead be used to offset a portion of the cost of the budget plan's $228 billion in tax cuts, as well as its defense spending increases. The net result would be significant further increases in the deficit. The plan would increase the deficit over the next five years by $254 billion above what deficits would be if current policy was left unchanged.

While Murray briefly noted Democrats' opposition to the bill's spending cuts in her May 19 article, she largely focused on the debate among Republicans in Congress, including differences among House Republicans and the upcoming debate "between House conservatives ... and Senate GOP moderates" to reconcile the budgets passed by the two chambers. On the GOP divide in the House, Murray reported:

Throughout the spring, GOP leaders had struggled to reconcile two warring factions in the House Republican Conference. Conservatives believe federal spending has spiraled out of control, and want to impose strict fiscal discipline. But moderates and other Republicans facing tough election campaigns this fall believe that too much belt-tightening could prove politically disastrous in November.

In March, 17 Republicans -- many of them viewed as top midterm targets by Democrats -- signed a letter seeking a 2 percent increase in non-security, non-emergency discretionary appropriations over fiscal 2006 levels. Several in the group offered a substitute budget that would have increased Bush's budget request for education and health accounts by $7.16 billion -- equal to the funding enacted in the fiscal 2006 appropriations bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments, plus a 2 percent inflationary increase.

While she highlighted these two Republican budget proposals, Murray failed to note the alternative budget introduced by House Democrats on May 18 and unanimously defeated by the GOP caucus prior to the final vote on the bill. The Democratic alternative, sponsored by Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. (D-SC), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, would have restored funding for education, veterans' care, and public health, which the GOP budget cut sharply. Moreover, Spratt's substitute would have reinstated the "pay-as-you-go" (PAYGO) budget rule that the Republican leadership allowed to expire in 2002. The PAYGO rule ensured deficit-neutral budgets by requiring tax cuts and increases in direct spending to be offset either by equivalent budget cuts or revenue generators. Republicans unanimously opposed Spratt's amendment, which failed by a vote of 184-241.

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Economy, Budget
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
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