Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., held a hearing on the first budget proposed by Senate Democrats in four years, and the significance of the moment was not lost on her.
“I understand we have a new pope and a committee hearing to mark up a budget; that’s history twice, so that’s good,” Murray quipped at the outset.
Murray, who irritated Republicans by not releasing her budget until after the hearing, proceeded to review the Clinton presidency to make the case for raising $975 billion in tax revenue by “closing loopholes” and increasing by $2.1 trillion over the next ten years.
“If this budget passes, the total deficit reduction since the Simpson-Bowles report will consist of 64 percent spending cuts, 14 percent tax rate increases on the rich, and 22 percent new revenue by closing loopholes and cutting wasteful spending in the tax code for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations,” she said in her opening statement, adding later that her budget would “tackle our deficit responsibly, reinvest in the middle class, build a strong foundation for growth, and restore the promise of American opportunity.”
Murray’s budget, like her joke, went over with Republicans like a lead balloon. “The blatant unwillingness of Senate Democrats to write and pass a budget for the federal government is not a joke,” a Senate Republican aide responded. “It has led to the highest annual deficits on record, which will have to be paid for by future generations of Americans. I wonder how funny Sen. Murray’s grand-kids will find it when they’re paying a trillion dollars in annual interest payments?”
The top Republican on the committee slammed the budget for not lowering the debt. “We know from academic studies that our debt over 90 percent of GDP destroys jobs and wages—their proposal locks these dangerous debt levels in place,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said in a statement. “Democrats are saying to the American people: you are the problem. Washington doesn’t need to change. You need to send us more money.”
President Obama, who won’t propose his budget until next month (two months after the legal deadline), praised Murray’s efforts.
“It’s a plan that doesn’t dwell on ongoing debates, but rather moves our country forward by making investments critical to our middle-class security – like education, manufacturing, and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges – while looking for waste, fraud, and savings throughout government,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.