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POLITICS

McConnell deaf to Democratic calls for a tax-hiking budget

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., rejected grudging promises from the Senate Democrats that they would only pass a budget that raises taxes, arguing that Democrats “are afraid” to show how much their spending would affect debt and deficits.

“I know a lot of Democrats are afraid of a process that exposes their priorities, particularly on spending and debt,” McConnell said during a speech this morning on the Senate Floor. “After nearly four years of refusing to pass a budget, they’ve only now reluctantly agreed to develop a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. All I would say to that is that, since the revenue question has been settled, I’m sure the American people are eager to see what other ideas Democrats might have to bring down our ruinous deficits.”

That statement was effectively a response to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who promised that Senate Democrats would pass their first budget since Obamacare was signed into law.

“We’re going to do a budget this year and it’s going to have revenues in it and our Republican colleagues better get used to that fact,” Schumer said during a Sunday appearance on Meet the Press.

The budget process puts Senate Democrats, and especially the six Democrats who represent red states and are heading into a 2014 reelection campaign, in a tough spot: if they pass a budget with tax increases, they’ve demanded additional revenue after getting the largest tax increase in two decades; if they pass a budget without tax increases, though, then the historic debt and deficits caused by the spending needed to support Obamacare and President Obama’s other priorities would prove very embarrassing — which is one reason Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has thwarted any budgets since early 2009.

“We should start with spending and debt; because if we don’t get a handle on that, nothing else matters,” McConnell said. “If we don’t work together to strengthen our entitlement programs, they will go bankrupt. Automatic cuts will be forced on seniors already receiving benefits, rendering worthless the promises that they’ve built their retirements around.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will tomorrow bring to a vote a proposal that would raise the debt ceiling by three months but require that Democrats pass a budget by the end of that time or have their pay withheld. White House senior adviser David Plouffe said Sunday that Obama would not veto this bill if it made it to his desk.

“If Boehner can get a Republican majority for a short-term debt limit increase, the spotlight falls on Harry Reid and Senate Democrats,” The Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone wrote in his column. “Reid has been blocking budgets because he can’t get a majority of 50 Democrats.”

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