Senate Democrats’ long-awaited budget fizzles

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

Is this what we waited four years for?

There was a lot of buildup to the first budget released by Senate Democrats since 2009, but the actual document didn’t even meet low expectations.

After blasting House Republicans for being overly intransigent and unwilling to compromise, Senate Democrats unveiled a budget that not only raises taxes by nearly $1 trillion by closing unspecified loopholes, but it actually increases spending on a net basis.

In theory, the plan authored by Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray claims to cut spending by about $975 billion from fiscal years 2014 through 2023. That includes $240 billion in defense cuts accounting for the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, $240 billion in claimed “responsible savings across domestic spending” and $275 billion in Medicare savings from “further realigning incentives throughout the system, cutting waste and fraud, and seeking greater engagement across the health care system.” The budget also assumes interest payment savings.

The problem is that these paper spending cuts are more than offset by the proposal to spend $960 billion to replace the automatic sequestration spending cuts as well as the $100 billion in new stimulus spending.

The deficit reduction that does exist comes in the form of tax increases. The budget says, it, “Achieves $975 billion in deficit reduction by closing loopholes and eliminating wasteful spending in the tax code that benefits the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.” But it doesn’t specify which loopholes will be closed.

The plan also offers no specific, broader reforms to the nation’s entitlement programs.

Democrats’ clear political calculation here is that their vague budget will be less of a target, allowing them to focus on blasting the House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal for being cruel. But in the process, they’ve shown themselves to be completely un-serious.


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Philip Klein

Commentary Editor
The Washington Examiner