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Top Dem promises to pass budget — but only to raise taxes

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Photo - WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) arrrives for a weekly policy luncheon with Democratic members of the U.S. Senate December 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress is still negotiating pending "fiscal cliff" legislation with the Obama White House.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 11: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) arrrives for a weekly policy luncheon with Democratic members of the U.S. Senate December 11, 2012 in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress is still negotiating pending "fiscal cliff" legislation with the Obama White House. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Byron York,Politics Digest

In recent days Republicans have had some success pointing out that it will soon be four years since Senate Democrats have allowed Congress to pass a budget — something the Congressional Budget Act requires lawmakers to do each year.  After a determined campaign by Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, the House GOP joined forces in a plan to pass a short-term debt-ceiling increase on the condition that Congress pass a budget.

The Democrats’ strategy has long been clear.  The last time Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed a budget through the Senate was in April 2009, when huge Democratic majorities in Congress passed steep increases in spending.  Since then, Democrats have funded the government through a series of continuing resolutions — essentially locking in the 2009 budget as the new baseline for spending.

But now a prominent Democratic lawmaker says his party will finally pass a budget — for the express purpose of raising taxes.  “We Democrats have always intended to do a budget this year,” Sen. Charles Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  “It’s a great opportunity to get us some more revenues.”

“You’re going to need more revenues as well as more cuts to get the deficit down,” Schumer said.  “And I’ve talked to Leader Reid. I’ve talked to Budget Chair Murray. 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 was most likely directing his comments toward Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who after the fiscal cliff deal that raised tax rates on the nation’s highest earners, also appeared on “Meet the Press” to declare that there would be no more revenue increases.  “We have resolved the revenue issue,” McConnell said.  “The question is what are we going to do about spending.”

Schumer, with 55 Democrats in the Senate, is now saying: Think again.  We’re going to raise taxes, and you can’t stop us.  The battle between the two sides will likely consume the Senate for the next two years.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner