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Steny Hoyer
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
The House of Representatives is not a particularly serious political body these days. Thankfully, in this budget debate, they also proved that they are not Very Serious People. The Village will be terribly disappointed in them, because last night they rejected the so-called Simpson-Bowles budget alternative in a very bipartisan vote.
Just 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted for the plan, which reduces the debt by trillions of dollars with a litany of spending cuts, including to safety-net programs and tax increases on high-income earners. The broad concept served as a sort-of model for failed discussions last year between President Obama and Speaker John Boehner, and the Wednesday vote is a sign that such an approach has fallen on deaf ears in both parties. [...]

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a vocal advocate for restarting talks on a Bowles-Simpson-style grand bargain, explained his vote against the plan.

“In order to achieve a big and balanced deficit-reduction package, we must build a broad consensus,” Hoyer said in a statement. The Cooper-LaTourette measure, he fretted, “came to the floor before that broad consensus could be achieved, which is why I voted against it. … I continue to believe that the Bowles-Simpson model should be a basis for ongoing discussions in the effort to create the needed consensus.”

Hoyer is still looking for takers on his Third Way-inspired "grand bargain" austerity plan, which he hopes to conclude in the lame duck session when policy-makers are unaccountable to their constituents and can work happily behind closed doors. The rejection of this budget plan hopefully means that Hoyer is going to have a hard time finding colleagues to join him.

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