The House Budget Committee approved Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) right-wing budget plan yesterday, but just barely. After Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) voted against it -- they said it was insufficiently conservative -- the final committee tally was 19 to 18.
It will only get more difficult going forward.
For Democrats, the Ryan agenda is ridiculous. Among Republicans, some say it's too extreme to support in an election year, some say it doesn't go far enough, and some deficit hawks have discovered that the House Republican plan wouldn't even try to lower the deficit until decades into the future.
We discussed the fact on Tuesday that only four House Republicans broke ranks on last year's Ryan plan and that the total is likely to go up this year. The Hill made a similar point yesterday after the Budget Committee vote, noting that "the tight vote indicates that next week House GOP leaders could face a larger floor defection."
But let's also not forget that Republican leaders are asking the House caucus to link arms and jump off a cliff for no particular reason. As Jonathan Bernstein explained, "[T]his isn't a vote that has to happen."
[I]f the Ryan budget passes the House, what happens next is ... nothing. No Senate vote. No Congressionally-passed budget resolution. Nothing. And Ryan, and Speaker John Boehner, surely know it.It is, as Stan Collender has been saying, a campaign document, nothing more. And yet it's a campaign document that Tea Partiers don't seem to want, and one that will saddle Members in competitive districts with easy-to-attack positions.... To tell the truth, I can't really think of any good precedent: a vote on something that neither the party's conservative or moderate wings wants to take on something that has no chance of advancing beyond that chamber. But Boehner and Ryan are asking Republican members to once again stick themselves with positions that you'll see in Democratic attack ads all the way through Election Day.
Ryan, Boehner, and Cantor have been telling reporters all week that they're optimistic about the budget plan passing the House. Are they trying to convince us or themselves?