Ryan Barely Passes Budget Through Committee; Club for Growth Opposes

Paul Ryan sped into action with his 2013 budget resolution. After releasing it on a Tuesday, he put it up for a vote in the Budget Committee on a Wednesday. This should have been immediately unacceptable to the other 37 members of the Budget Committee who allegedly have a function in crafting the budget. But they allowed the vote nonetheless. What’s surprising is that it only passed by one vote.

Two conservative Republicans voted against the Ryan plan, which cuts spending by $5.3 trillion over ten years, because it did not cut the budget fast enough. Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) voted no.

The tight vote indicates that next week House GOP leaders could face more defections on the floor than on last year’s budget, which only four Republicans opposed. GOP leaders say they are confident the measure will pass.

Panel conservatives had wanted to bring discretionary spending down to $931 billion next year as part of a plan to balance the budget within a decade. The Ryan plan contains a compromise spending level $97 billion higher and does not balance until nearly 2040.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) told The Hill that he may vote against the Ryan plan on the floor after supporting it in committee.

So if Mulvaney voted his principles in committee, the Ryan budget would have lost on the merits.

And expect a lot of conservative outcry between now and next week’s vote. The conservative Club for Growth came out against the bill, in particular because it cancels out the trigger: [cont’d.] (more…)

Republicans Combine Two of Their Obama-Endorsed Ideas Into “Even Obama Supported” GOP Bill

Brian Beutler reports on the House GOP’s next trick. Their plan is to find the two worst parts of the President’s jobs bill and deficit plan, and combine them for a package that sounds almost comically silly, but that gives them the talking point that the President supported the component parts:

The piece of the jobs bill Republicans will pass would end a requirement that the government withhold three percent of the cost of projects contracted out to private companies, to assure tax compliance. It’s a rule that Congress adopted during the Bush administration to cut down on tax cheating by government contractors. The near-term stimulative value of repeal is questionable, according to critics, and it’s a permanent repeal — not a holiday. The Joint Committee on Taxation concluded that the requirement saves the federal government over $10 billion over 10 years that would otherwise be lost to major contractors.

The new standard on Capitol Hill, though, is that all legislation other than permanent tax cuts for wealthy people must be paid for — typically with cuts to federal programs. So Republicans have selected a provision from Obama’s deficit reduction recommendations that would limit Medicaid eligibility for people who also receive Social Security benefits.

Here’s how it works: The government uses a measure known as Modified Adjusted Gross Income to determine Medicaid eligibility. Currently, though, it only incorporates the taxable portion of Social Security income in that calculation. Under this proposal, it would factor in all Social Security benefits. That means some seniors who currently qualify for Medicaid would no longer be eligible. Doing this would save about $14.6 billion over 10 years — more than the cost of repealing the 3 percent withholding compliance measure.

So it’s a bill facilitating tax cheats, paid for by cutting off Medicaid benefits for poor elderly people. [cont’d.] (more…)

“No Crime was Committed” Argued Victoria Toensing – As the Lawyer for Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN

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Nowhere in the coverage of Victoria Toensing’s testimony before Congress, where she echoed the same old defamatory smears against the Wilsons, could I find any mention that Toensing had argued  substantially the same points two years earlier – as a lawyer representing Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, and just about every other major news organization.

Toensing, along with Baker & Hostetler, drafted an amicus brief backing  Judith Miller’s and Matt Cooper’s efforts to avoid testifying. The brief  argued that “there is ample evidence on the public record to cast considerable doubt that a crime has been committed.” Any law student can tell you this puts the cart before the horse. Grand juries are gathered to determine whether a crime has been committed. Since grand jury proceedings are secret, Toensing was obviously ignorant of the evidence being reviewed.

The brief never proffered any bona fide evidence. No judge would rely on the esteemed Washington Times, using anonymous sources who claimed Mrs. Wilson’s identity was first disclosed in the mid-1990's, as evidence. It’s clearly hearsay, inadmissible at trial. No judge would rely on Robert Novak’s claim that the CIA “failed to give him a serious request not (more…)