Tax cuts trump deficit concerns for some House Republicans

Several Republicans who voted against the GOP budget resolution in late March, over concerns that it would not cut the deficit quickly enough, overcame their worries about the deficit on Thursday and voted in favor of a small business tax cut that is estimated to increase the deficit by $46 billion.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) Small Business Tax Cut act, H.R. 9, passed the House Thursday by a 235-173 vote, with the help of nine Republicans who voted against the GOP budget — several of whom argued that the budget did not sufficiently address the deficit.

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The contrasting votes show the power that tax cuts have to draw support from members of Congress, even when they are not offset with spending cuts, and even when the members in question are feisty deficit hawks.

The March 29 vote on the budget resolution from Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) saw 10 Republicans defect and vote against the bill. Those members were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Joe Barton (Texas), John Duncan Jr. (Tenn.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), Walter Jones (N.C.), David McKinley (W.Va.), Todd Platts (Pa.), Denny Rehberg (Mont.) and Ed Whitfield (Ky.).

Many of them cited deficit concerns right after the vote.

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"I voted for the Republican Study Committee budget," said Barton, noting his support for an alternative budget that cut the deficit more quickly. "It makes some tough choices, but also contains real results. It balances the budget in 5 years and makes $100 billion in cuts, this year alone. Those are true reforms that will build over time and ultimately have a significant impact on our ballooning debt."

"Today I voted against the budget proposals offered in the House," Whitfield said. "After reviewing the different proposals, I didn't feel they offered an effective plan to balance the budget and provide the needed reform to preserve Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."

Others in this group cited similar concerns about the deficit after voting against Ryan's plan.

But of these 10 Republicans, nine voted for Cantor's small business tax cut, which would give companies with fewer than 500 employees a 20 percent tax break, without offsetting the spending elsewhere. While Democrats argued that the bill would "blow a $46 billion hole" in the deficit, those arguments did not deter the 217 Republicans who voted for it, nor the 18 Democrats who joined them.

Only Amash voted against Cantor's bill and Ryan's budget plan.

Cantor's bill did draw 10 Republican "no" votes, from Amash and nine others, including Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). Soon after the Thursday vote, McClintock took to the floor to explain his vote, and indicated that his concern was indirectly related to the deficit.

"[I]t merely shifts current taxes into the future," McClintock said of the tax bill. "Once a dollar has been spent, it's already become a tax, taken either from today or tomorrow to pay off deficits.

"Tax cuts without either spending reductions or real economic growth are an illusion," he added.