Other than McConnell's so-called "Plan B," all the various permutations of the GOP plan to deal with the debt ceiling call for PASSING the Balanced Budget Amendment in the House and Senate. In addition, we will have spending cuts at levels yet to be determined ( spread over a number of years.) In return, Obama will get some increase in the debt ceiling.
I very much support the BBA, but in following this issue, I've yet to see anyone say what happens if/when the BBA fails to pass the Senate? Is there a "Plan C?"
GOP leaders have been mostly noncommital on the question. Dems have been quoted often as saying :
1. A BBA isn't necessary for us to do our job.
2. It won't pass the Senate.
3. It'll take years for the states to possibly ratify the BBA. It does nothing now, ergo, it's not necessary.
To me, it sounds like the Dems are afraid of having to take the BBA vote in the Senate. 67 votes are needed for passage. All 47 GOP senators will vote for it. That's a given. Therefore we need to find 20 Dem votes in the Senate to pass it.
Of the 23 Dem seats up in 2012, including those that have announced their retirements, we could project anywheres from 10-15 votes for the BBA. I'm not that astute a vote-counter. So, are there from 5-10 votes in the remaining Senate Dems who would support the BBA? That's the big question? I suspect there might be, could be..but can't really tell...actually, don't really think so. I don't think the Dem leadership really knows either, 100%, at this point.
Here's my working list:
FOR BBA: Webb, Lieberman
AGAINST BBA: Akaka, Bingaman, Conrad, Kohl
Dems seeking reelection:
FOR BBA: McCaskill, Tester, Nelson (Ne), Manchin
AGAINST BBA: Cardin, Stabenow, Feinstein, Carper, Menendez, Gillibrand, Brown, Casey, Whitehouse, Cantwell, Sanders
POSSIBLE VOTES FOR BBA: Nelson (FL), Klobuchar
Oddly enough, if the vote were held closer to the election, I think that a few more Dems might actually vote for the BBA. I've included Nelson (FL) here, because he's going to be under real pressure. Klobuchar, because of the government shut down in her home state, might decide to vote for the BBA. Independents in MN aren't as hard left as the DFL, so she might decide it's OK to go this way.
Dems NOT running in 2012:
FOR BBA: Begich, Pryor
AGAINST BBA: Feinstein, Boxer, Udall, Bennett, Blumenthal, Coons, Inouye, Durbin, Harkin, Mikulski, Kerry, Levin, Franken, Baucus, Reid, Shaheen, Lautenberg, Schumer, Hagan, Merkeley, Reed, Leahy, Murray
POSSIBLE VOTES FOR BBA: Landrieu, Wyden, Johnson, Warner, Rockefeller
I think Landrieu's just about a hard YES, but she's flakey. Wyden might surprise. He hasn't been as much of a hard ideologue as in his earlier career. For those of you who laugh at my including Warner and Rockefeller as "possibles," it depends to some extent on whether or not they chose to run again. Also, the fact that there fellow Dems in the Senate will vote for the BBA gives them some cover. Tim Johnson, if he wants to run again, ( depending on his health) will have to vote for the BBA. If he's going to retire, he's a definite NO.
So, there you have it. I count SIX definite Dem votes for a BBA. And a grand total of FIFTEEN that I could see voting YES.
On the face of it, we fall short. We could actually see a few more votes in favor of the BBA, as Reid might allow a few to attempt to repackage themselves as" fiscally sound" to the voters.
It's gonna take a Hail Mary to get this through the Senate. And as I said above, it's ironic that if the vote were taken this time NEXT year, I think we could get the Dem votes to pass it. Now, no way.
I'm sure many here will add their own thoughts about respective Senators.
But that bring us back to my original question. What does the GOP do when the BBA goes DOWN in the Senate?