Budgetology: Chicken Dance in Washington

| March 25 2013

Budgetology: Chicken Dance in Washington

After a marathon voting session over the weekend, the Senate finally did what it hasn’t done in the last four years: passed a budget proposal.  And after that, it was only fitting that the majority and minority leaders took to the Senate floor to do their own “chicken dance.” But before we get too carried away, it’s worth taking a closer look at whether Saturday’s “Herculean feat” is really a cause for celebration.

 

SENATE LEADERS CONGRATULATE SELVES ON “HERCULEAN FEAT” & ONE OF THE “FINEST DAYS IN RECENT MEMORY”

CNN: “Senate Passes Its First Budget Proposal In Four Years” (Ted Barrett and Alison Harding, “Senate Passes Its First Budget Proposal In Four Years,” CNN, 3/23/13)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Doing this [passing a budget for the first time in four years] has been a herculean feat.” (Tom Howell Jr., “Senate narrowly passes first budget in four years,” The Washington Times, 3/ 22/13)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “You man not feel it at this moment, but this is one of the Senate’s finest days in recent years.” (Patrick Jonsson, “Senat’s first budget in four years: A chip off partisan block?,” Christian Science Monitor, 3/23/13)

 

A SUMMARY OF ONE OF THE “FINEST DAYS” IN THE SENATE

A Host Of Fiscally Responsible Measures Rejected:

Rejected: An Amendment To Ensure The Solvency Of Medicare And Medicaid.  (S.Amdt. 213 to S.Con.Res. 8)

Rejected: An Amendment That Called For Instructions To Reduce The Federal Deficit Over The Next 10 Years. (S.Amdt. 152 to S.Con.Res. 8)

Rejected: An Amendment To Eliminate A Program That Gives Mobile Phones To Welfare Recipients. (S.Amdt. 338 to S.Con.Res. 8)

Rejected: An Amendment That Made It More Difficult To Pass A Budget That Spends More On Federal Interest Payments Than On Defense Spending.  (S.Amdt. 373to S.Con.Res. 8)

Rejected: An Amendment To Prohibit Tax Increases When The National Civilian Unemployment Rate Is Above 5.5 Percent. (S.Amdt. 158 to S.Con.Res. 8)

 

WHAT THE SENATE BUDGET ACTUALLY DOES

Nearly $1 Trillion In Tax Increases: “An exhausted Senate gave pre-dawn approval Saturday to a Democratic $3.7 trillion budget for next year that embraces nearly $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade …” (Alan Fram, “Senate Democratic Budget Extends Standoff With GOP,” Associated Press, 3/23/13)

Will Continue To Add To The Debt, Never Balance: “The budget does not balance, however, and has a deficit of $566 billion in 2023.” (Erik Wasson, “Senate Passes First Budget In Four Years,” The Hill, 3/23/13)

Turns Off $1.2 Trillion In Cuts, Increases Spending: “The Murray budget contains $975 billion in spending cuts, including $275 billion in new cuts to Medicare and Medicaid spending. But it also turns off $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts scheduled over nine years. Factoring that in, the budget does not constitute a net spending cut.” (Erik Wasson, “Senate Passes First Budget In Four Years,” The Hill, 3/23/13)

 

WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE SAYING ABOUT IT

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) Says A More Balanced Approach Was Needed: “A more balanced approach was necessary, Baucus’s office said. ‘He was disappointed there was no middle ground,’ said the aide. …  ‘And that is what his bosses — the people of Montana — tell him they want to see, a balanced plan that’ll bring us together, gets our economy running at full speed and creates jobs for folks in Montana and across America.’” (Jordy Yager, “Dems Say Democratic Budget Isn’t Balanced,” The Hill, 3/23/13)

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas): “This Budget Fails To Strike The Right Balance …” “This budget fails to strike the right balance between cutting our spending and setting up a path for future job creation and economic growth. … Instead of one-party solutions, we should work together to find a balanced approach that will benefit our economy, seniors, and middle class families.”  (Jordy Yager, “Dems Say Democratic Budget Isn’t Balanced,” The Hill, 3/23/13)

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) Criticized The Budget For Failing To Do Enough To Reduce The Deficit. “Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) also voted against the budget, saying that it didn’t do enough to reduce the country’s deficit. ‘While I am happy that Congress is finally talking seriously about our fiscal crisis, this budget didn’t go far enough …  Alaskans expect us to finish the job and make this staggering deficit manageable. Passing this problem off to our children is not an option. … We can either make the tough choices now or face an even tougher road ahead.’” (Jordy Yager, “Dems Say Democratic Budget Isn’t Balanced,” The Hill, 3/23/13)

Although The White House Disagrees:

“White House Spokesman Jay Carney Praised The Senate Plan, Saying In A Statement It ‘Will Create Jobs And Cut The Deficit In A Balanced Way.’” (Alan Fram, “Senate Democratic Budget Extends Standoff With GOP,” Associated Press, 3/23/13)

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