Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

USA Today: 38 Members of Congress Find Courage to Do the Right Thing

Apr 4, 2012 | Budgets & Projections

The USA Today has joined us in the praise of the 38 Congressmen that had the courage to support the Cooper-LaTourette budget last week. With an editorial today, they commended those who supported the only bipartisan budget resolution under consideration last week. While the plan may not be either party's ideal solution, the USA Today argued that a bill similar to Bowles-Simpson was the only realistic opportunity to stabilize the debt. A mix of tax increases and spending cuts would be necessary for a fiscally responsible and Congressionally passable plan.

After expressing dismay with the partisanship surrounding the annual budget debate in Congress, USA Today noted that there was one ray of hope:

There aren't many heroes in this soul-destroying process, but we found a tiny band of 38 — the 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans who voted for a bipartisan alternative budget based on the proposal from 's fiscal commission in 2010. The budget proposed by Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, backed a combination of the tax increases most Republicans won't vote for and the cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security that most Democrats won't support.

In the end, the editorial argued that partisan and interest group politics won out:

Cooper and LaTourette both say about 100 members said they'd be with them, but then conservative and liberal organizations — groups LaTourette colorfully called "bloodsuckers" — began an unusually aggressive effort to pressure Republicans and Democrats to vote no. By the final 382-38 vote, two-thirds of Cooper's and LaTourette's allies had slunk away. Some came around afterward to sheepishly apologize. One member, says Cooper, told him that if he hadn't voted no, his favorite lobbyist would have been fired.

The USA Today felt that the time for partisan posturing was over, and that it was time to see some leadership on this issue from Members of Congress.  

The belief that this fall's election will clarify voter sentiment and make the job easier is naive. Voters almost always send mixed messages. The job of representatives in a democracy is to govern, which requires compromise. The fact that only 38 members of the House did so is shameful.

This is just one of the many editorials to praise Cooper-LaTourette. Newspapers and other publications across the country have been shaking their head about how the vote played out. They all hope for a revival of bipartisanship in Congress so something can be done on the fiscal front. We hope messages like these will show Congress that we cannot use party rhetoric to put off solving our fiscal problems any longer.