Dem: Spending-cap bill 'could cost me my Senate seat' in 2012

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Tuesday introduced legislation meant to cap Washington spending that she said could lead to her defeat in 2012.

McCaskill, a freshman senator who faces a tough reelection, is co-sponsoring legislation with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would force the government to hold spending at 20.6 percent of the nation’s GDP.

ADVERTISEMENT
That would mean huge, and likely unpopular, budget cuts, as current federal spending stands at 24.7 percent of GDP. But McCaskill said she’s willing to lose her election if it means the legislation will be approved.

“If this bill is distorted and twisted, it could cost me my Senate seat, but it’s a price I am willing to pay,” McCaskill said in a floor speech supporting the bill on Tuesday.

“It is a price I am willing to pay for my country, and more importantly, it is a price I am willing to pay for my grandchildren.”

Voters unhappy with the economy and federal spending handed the House to Republicans last fall, and lawmakers in both parties are determined to cut the budget. The Congressional Budget Office last week projected a $1.5 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year.

Still, getting the federal budget under control is likely to mean steep cuts in spending and changes to Medicare and Social Security, which could put lawmakers in danger of losing their seats.

A SurveyUSA poll last week found McCaskill only four points ahead of Republican Rep. Sam Graves, who is mulling a run for the seat. The poll was commissioned by a firm that works for Graves.

President Obama narrowly lost Missouri to GOP Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the 2008 election.

The McCaskill-Corker bill would force the government to cap its spending at a declining percentage of GDP over the next 10 years by implementing a “glide path” over the next decade that would cap all spending.

If Congress fails to stay within its spending goals, the legislation directs the Office of Management and Budget to make cuts to reach the targeted levels.

Congress could only approve spending above the ceiling set by the bill with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.

“Getting control of spending is very, very hard, but we have to do it and we have to do it now,” McCaskill said in her floor speech. “But this bill is possible. It tells the American people that our spending is going to be capped at a certain amount of economic spending in this country.”

The Commitment to American Prosperity Act, or the “CAP Act,” is co-sponsored by GOP Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), James Inhofe (Okla.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), and McCain.