Confusion Over Budget Numbers A Factor In House Vote

The last 24 hours saw an erosion of GOP support for Speaker John Boehner’s spending deal, which required Democratic votes to pass on Thursday after 59 Republicans defected, thanks in no small part to confusion over just how much it cut.

The topline number heralded in the press after a deal was reached last week was $38.5 billion below current spending levels. But an analysis of CBO numbers by Politico’s David Rogers on Wednesday, confirmed by TPM, showed the bill only reduced direct spending by about $350 million. The news rallied conservatives already skeptical of the deal, caused the National Review to reverse its endorsement of the deal, and sent Boehner scrambling to explain the bill’s cuts to his base.

“It’s fair to say it wasn’t just constituents that were confused about all that was being published,” Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) told TPM after voting against the bill. “I hope we get better at that and better at really drilling down and making sure people are all comparing apples to apples rather than applies, cherries, bananas, and oranges.”In a press release announcing his “no” vote, a spokesman for freshmen Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) wrote that he “voted against a long-term continuing resolution that would cut between $352 million and $45 billion, depending on whom you believe.”

Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), who supported the CR, expressed frustration that differing interpretations of the deal had helped divide the caucus.

“There was a piece of false information by people who don’t understand the difference between budget authority and budget outlays,” he told reporters after voting for the bill. “Some story says it’s only $321 million and that makes some people jumpy. It isn’t true.”