Two 2012 Hopefuls Among 9 Republicans Voting No on Cut, Cap, and Balance

By Susan Jones | July 20, 2011 | 6:10 AM EDT

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

( - Some of the 9 Republicans joining 181 Democrats in voting against the 'Cut, Cap and Balance" bill Tuesday said the legislation didn't go far enough.

Those nine include 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and Ron Paul (Texas). (Despite the nine Republican "nay" votes, the bill ultimately passed 234-190.)

"While I embrace the principles of Cut, Cap and Balance, the motion does not go far enough in fundamentally restructuring the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars," Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a message posted on her Web site. Bachmann did call the bill "a step in the right direction."

But in addition to cutting spending and imposing enforceable spending caps, Congress must also repeal and defund Obamacare, Bachmann insisted.

"We must remember that ObamaCare is the largest spending and entitlement program in our nation’s history. That means, at a time when we can least afford it, President Obama added to our spending problem by the trillions. Without its repeal, we cannot have real economic reform."

Bachmann called it "jaw-dropping" to hear President Obama call for "modest adjustments" and tax increases to fix the U.S. economy, as he did at his news conference last Friday.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, holds a news conference at his newly opened Iowa campaign office on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in Ankeny, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Rep. Ron Paul said he voted against the bill because it only serves to sanction the status quo by putting forth a $1 trillion budget deficit and authorizing a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

Paul said it's "impossible" to eventually balance the budget without cutting military spending, Social Security or Medicare.

"These three budget items already cost nearly $1 trillion apiece annually," he noted. "This means we can cut every other area of federal spending to zero and still have a $3 trillion budget.  Since annual federal tax revenues almost certainly will not exceed $2.5 trillion for several years, this Act cannot balance the budget under any plausible scenario," Paul said.

Paul also criticized the Cut, Cap and Balance bill for entrenching "the ludicrous Beltway concept of discretionary vs. nondiscretionary spending." Given the current fiscal crisis, he said, it's time to "slay Washington's sacred cows -- including defense contractors and entitlements.  All spending must be deemed discretionary and reexamined by Congress each year.  To allow otherwise is pure cowardice."

Paul also opposes provisions in the bill that permit exceptions to spending caps to fight the war on terror. "Since this war is undeclared, has no definite enemies, no clear objectives, and no metric to determine victory, it is by definition endless.  Congress will never balance the budget until we reject the concept of endless wars."

Paul also criticized the bill for ignoring what he called the "real issue" -- total spending by government.  "As Milton Friedman famously argued, what we really need is a constitutional amendment to limit taxes and spending, not simply to balance the budget.  What we need is a dramatically smaller federal government; if we achieve this a balanced budget will take care of itself."

Paul noted that a $4 trillion balanced budget is most certainly worse than a $2 trillion unbalanced budget: "Again, we should focus on the total size of the budget more than outlays vs. revenues," he said.

Paul said he has never voted for a debt ceiling increase -- "and I never will," because doing so "is an endorsement of business as usual in Washington."

Bachmann supports a balanced budget amendment, saying it would have prevented President Obama from adding more than 4 trillion to the national debt.

"The current negotiations over the debt ceiling illustrate exactly what is wrong with Washington," Bachmann said. "We should not continue to spend and borrow trillions that we don’t have just because that’s always the way politicians have done things in the past. Those days are over. The American people have had enough."

Bachmann said President Obama should stop scaring the military and stop threatening default. "Last Wednesday, I co-authored a bill that would remove default as an option and guarantee that our military was paid first. We can meet our obligations, keep our bond rating and keep our promises, but we have to make the tough choices now to turn our economy around and put Americans back to work."

The other seven Republicans voting against Cut, Cap and Balance are: Mack of Florida, Broun of Georgia, Rohrabacher of California, Jones of N.C., DesJarlais of Tenn., Canseco  of Texas, and Griffith of Virginia.