It's a no-good very bad week for the Obama Administration, and we haven't even gotten to the Friday Solyndra document dump. After a bruising Supreme Court review of President Obama's signature health care initiative (masterfully recounted by Damon Root here, here, here and other places), the president's budget has been subjected to a gimmicky zero-vote defeat in the House of Representatives.
More seriously, Obama's long-dying deficit-reduction plan, spearheaded by emeritus operatives Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, has been eviscerated in a 382-38 House vote.
The 382-38 defeat, with just 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats voting for it, marks a bad end to what began nearly two years ago, when President Obama tapped former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican, to lead a deficit-reduction committee.
Their report has popped up in every deficit discussion since then, but had never gotten a vote in either chamber until this week, when opponents prevailed.
"This doesn't go big. This doesn't tackle the problem. This doesn't do the big things," said Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the Budget Committee. "You can never get the debt under control if you don't deal with our health care entitlement programs."
The debate came as the House worked its way through its fiscal year 2013 budget plan, which Mr. Ryan wrote.
The Bowles-Simpson plan was offered as an alternative on the chamber floor.
Minutes earlier, the House also defeated Mr. Obama's own budget, submitted last month, on a 414-0 vote arranged by Republicans to embarrass the president and officially shelve his plan.
"It's not a charade. It's not a gimmick — unless what the president sent us is the same," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a freshman Republican from South Carolina who sponsored Mr. Obama's proposal for purposes of the debate. "I would encourage the Democrats to embrace this landmark Democrat document and support it. Personally, I will be voting against it."
Simpson-Bowles never really gained much traction, and the vote on the president's unseasoned budget was a stunt. So the House actions shouldn't be taken too seriously. Then again, neither should Obama's claims about reducing the deficit.
Smilin' Al Simpson in better times: