By Erik Wasson - 02/01/11 06:57 PM EST
McCaskill and Corker have gotten out in front of the pack by introducing Tuesday what they called the first Senate bill this session dealing with all aspects of federal spending. But their unwillingness to take the debt ceiling hostage may doom the Commitment to American Prosperity Act, or CAP Act.
McCaskill is the only Senate Democrat sponsoring the bill. She said she has not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about the bill and suspects he is not pleased she introduced it.
At a press conference, however, she said she plans to be “obnoxious” in pestering fellow Democrats to join the effort.
The 10-page CAP Act would force Congress to reduce all spending to 20.6 percent of GDP over 10 years, down from 24.7 percent now. To enforce this, it would require sequestrations whereby the Office and Management and Budget would be forced to make across-the-board cuts if the cap is not met.
In the event of emergencies such as war, two-thirds of both chambers would have to vote to exceed the caps. Corker said merely requiring 60 votes would not work, since that is too easy a hurdle to reach.
The bill would also count Social Security spending as part of the budget, meaning that OMB would have to make unpopular cuts to it if the caps were exceeded.
The Missouri senator, who is up for reelection in 2012, said she has already gotten lots of calls from “folks trying to undermine” the bill. She’s anticipating attack ads in her state saying she is trying to take away Social Security benefits.
She insisted her intention is exactly the opposite: By putting Social Security on the budget and subjecting it to the CAP Act, it would force Congress to shore up its long-term finances now, she said.
McCaskill said the bill complements another she is working on with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to cap discretionary spending in the short term.