Senate Democrat backs bill to cap government spending
April 26th, 2011
02:22 PM ET
11 years ago

Senate Democrat backs bill to cap government spending

Washington (CNN) - Ratcheting up the pressure on Democratic leaders to accept steep cuts in government spending, freshman Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said Tuesday he would back a bill that places strict caps on spending enforced by automatic cuts if those caps were breached.

The move by the moderate Democrat, who is up for re-election in a swing state, is evidence of the acute sensitivity many Democrats have about the politically charged issue of reducing government debt. Top Senate Democrats oppose spending caps as too inflexible. Manchin's announcement could weaken Democratic leaders in their negotiations with Republicans over the coming weeks about how to cut spending and curb the nation's debt.

Most immediately, Democratic leaders are trying to get Republicans to agree to raise the government's debt ceiling - which will be hit next month - without forcing cuts Democrats consider draconian. Congressional Republicans and some Democrats have said they will not vote to raise the borrowing limit unless it is tied to reforms in government spending.

In his remarks in West Virginia, Manchin said his support for the spending caps measure and, separately, for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, "would offer a good framework for a bipartisan" deal to raise the debt limit.

Manchin's support for the CAP Act, means supporters of the bill are one vote shy of a majority of senators supporting it, according to the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, who co-authored the bill with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee. While that is a symbolically important threshold, it is far short of the 60 votes that would be needed to pass the bill over the opposition of Democratic leaders who control the chamber.

The Senate Republican campaign committee dismissed Manchin's gesture as politically motivated and insufficient to prove he wants to curb government spending, especially in the wake of Manchin's support for President Obama's health care reform bill and economic stimulus package.

"Senator Manchin knows full well that the proposals he is endorsing today have zero chance of becoming law because they are being blocked by the same liberal Senate Democratic leaders that he voted to put in power," said a statement from Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the committee.

The CAP Act is a "fiscal straitjacket" that would force Congress to reduce spending dramatically, according to Corker. Over the next ten years, it would reduce spending to no more that 20.6 percent of gross domestic product, down from the current level of 24.7 percent.

If Congress failed to stay under the cap, the executive branch would have "to make evenly distributed, simultaneous cuts throughout the federal budget to bring spending down to the pre-determined level," according to a summary of the bill.

Only a vote by two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate could prevent the automatic cuts.

Filed under: Democrats • Joe Manchin • Senate
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Good try. Smoke and mirrors from the left. They should put a true alien in charge, a Draconian.

    April 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Horky

    Let's see now....Voted FOR the Stimulus and voted FOR the Health Care bill but now wants to REDUCE spending. That's like saying "here's some money, but I am going to ask for it back in a few months."

    More political posturing. NOTICE TO LEFTIES- See this article? BOTH sides grandstand. Wake up and stop blaming just the Republicans. Both parties are selling us down the river.

    April 26, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. sonny chapman

    Make sure W.Va. is the first affected by the cap.

    April 26, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    I guess they will drive it into the ditch again before they'll take it to the repair shop. The American public is going to have to bite and swallow a big pill. Those programs that you invested in all your life (yeah, Social Security and Medicare) have already been defunded, are now bankrupting our government, and will have to be dramatically reduced in budget.

    This war has been waged for the past 30 years, when the greatest president the GOP has ever known took the oath. His tax cuts began the systematic dismantling of those programs because he paid for his tax cuts (and defense spending) out of the funds set aside for those programs.

    April 26, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. once, long ago, there was a democrat...

    ...who didn't want to spend us into oblivion. But it was just once, and it was long ago.

    April 26, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. john

    Manchin is an opportunist creep, but better, I guess, than Raese would have been.

    April 26, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel least one Dem with some fiscal responsibility........imagine that.

    April 26, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. john

    Wait, can a majority pass a bill that it takes a supermajority to modify? That sounds very fishy to me!

    April 26, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Grand Oil Party

    Perhaps the Dems should agree to the caps and cuts if the Repubs agree to tax companies who ship jobs overseas. The only way to stop the bleeding from the cuts is to increase the number of people employed in the country so it makes sense to offset one with the other.

    April 26, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Peter

    This legislation makes too much sense to ever become law.

    April 26, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. diridi

    If you have guts, put forth Anti-lobby bill, Tax Audit bill, Get tax cheats, o.k, Exon, GE did not pay, nab, and bust them. o.k, Do not cut Medicare, Education, Infrastructure, Energy money, etc, These are the nation's dire needs for poor man.....o.k, Pass the bill who make more than 250k or more, let them pay more....o.k, Get the banks who charge interest on Visa/M/C 30 percent interest....o.k, Do these things first, do not cry.....o.k, Washington is wasting on contractors, instead of doing work in one hour, they do in ten hours...every step these guys are there in Washington know, watch those work, and time them....just do not give money freely, because it is public money...learn, and do.....

    April 26, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  12. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Everyone want to cut federal spending.Democratic leaders are trying to get Republicans to agree to raise the government's debt ceiling. Now if the states that were hit buy latest storm like southern Missouri, southern Illinois, Indiana, western Kentucky, northern Arkansas and parts of Oklahoma. If they ask for federal aid and get it want this increase the government debt?

    April 26, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  13. ConservaFascists -aka- Mammon

    Sen. Manchin is a democrat in name ONLY. The only democratic value he supports is a womans right to choose. He's a republican on everything else.

    April 26, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. The Day of Financial Reckoning is HERE - The Great Democrat Welfare Society Ends

    Joe Manchin is doing what he needs to do to survive the next election. It would be nice to think that he"gets it" but somehow I think he'll end up back on Harry's Reid's lap with his mouth moving in unison with Harry's hand behind his back. The future of this country has been turned into a political side show by the Democrats. it is almost as if they WANT to drive this country into bankruptcy.

    If the Democrats won't vote to cut the spending then I DEMAND they immediately propose all of the tax increases they require to fund the insane government spending they advocate. If the people think spending cuts are Draconian, wait until they have to pay for the insane spending of all these Democrat fools.

    April 26, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  15. Laverne

    What he is failing to realize is that WITHOUT dems support in W. VA he won't be re-elected anyway so go ahead and put the nail in your own coffin. I hope Reid knows he will not be able to count on this so called dem in the future on many issues. Manchin is playing chicken!

    April 26, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. JMR49

    For Cryin' Out Loud, DINO agrees with the GOP and still gets attacked. Yew peeps are just sick.

    April 26, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Bob in PA

    A democrat with common sense ?... I like it !

    April 26, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  18. Mikey

    @ day of reckoning – I guess the fact that 2/3 of the national debt was created under Republican Administrations is lost on you. Do you remember Cheney saying just a few years ago that "deficits don't matter." See the facts show...... ah, facts – you're obviously an extreme right wing partisan wacko, so a discussion of facts.... oh, just forget it... waste of time

    April 26, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. Haren

    Looks like he is not reading the polls American public wants to raise income tax on rich but does not want to cut spending from medicare and medicaid.
    Let us get true democrat like Robert Byrd.

    April 26, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. A True Centrist

    This isn't difficult...the US needs to lower the corporate tax rates to remain competitive in the global market. However, tax breaks like those that result in major corporations paying $0 in taxes is unacceptable.

    Simple solution...lower the corporate tax rate and close the tax loopholes. It's been talked about for years now, with talks heating up as of late but why hasn't it happened yet? It's staring us right in the face and is almost TOO simple...please, work on this immediately!! Corporations can sell their shareholders on the idea that they are no longer operating in the country with the #1 highest corporate tax rate, and the US may even see additional revenue coming in. Win, win

    April 26, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. California Conservative

    D.C. will only play the shell game.

    They're incapable of making cuts hence we're all screwed.

    April 26, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Ben

    The CAP act is a bill written completely out of political expediency. The senators involved in writing it and who would vote for it should be ashamed of themselves. Either they know that this bill is garbage from a macroeconomics standpoint or their understanding of economics is so poor they should resign. There is little doubt the government needs to make major reforms in spending and taxation, both are currently irrational, but this bill does nothing to actually address those problems.

    April 26, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Matt

    Note to the people that complain about taxes: taxes are the lowest they've been in GENERATIONS, and are lower than they are in 90% of what we consider the "civilized world". Don't like it? GTFO, and go find a country with "smaller government" – I hear Somalia is nice this time of year, and they let you own as many automatic weapons and pick-em-up trucks as you want!

    Otherwise, stop complaining – most of you probably live in the welfare-queen Red States that collect more federal spending than they pay in taxes.

    April 26, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. Rickster

    Manchin will soon be run out of the democrat party for considering actually doing something about the insane spending. That absolutely goes against the democrat party's platform of saying something needs to be done but actually doing the opposite. The modern democrat party is totally comprised of economics-challenged socialist loons.

    April 26, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. ...

    The Manchin goes again...putting his political ambitions above doing the right thing.

    April 26, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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