- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
Democrats punt on Senate budget bill for third year
Committee chairman to revisit Bowles-Simpson plan of 2010
Question of the Day
In a stunning backtrack that virtually guarantees Congress for the third year will be unable to produce a budget, Senate Democrats’ top budget writer Tuesday canceled this week’s expected votes on a 2013 fiscal blueprint.
Instead, Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, said he will use the next few months to try to breathe life into the shelved 2-year-old Bowles-Simpson deficit commission proposal.
Mr. Conrad said he wasn’t going to be able to reach a bipartisan agreement on a budget plan and he decided instead to try to kick-start a longer-term debate.
“This is the wrong time to vote in the committee. This is the wrong time to vote on the floor,” Mr. Conrad told reporters as he announced his strategy. “We do need to try to maximize the chance as we get closer to all the tax cuts expiring and the sequester being imposed that we’re ready to act.”
He said he will still convene the Budget Committee this week and introduce his plan, but won’t hold any votes or debate any amendments.
His move stunned Senate Republicans, who had been preparing amendments for Wednesday and Thursday.
“It’s hard to negotiate with somebody who won’t tell you where they are,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, who said Mr. Conrad was breaking a promise he made to debate and vote on a budget.
Hanging over the discussion is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who had steadfastly said he would not bring a budget to the floor this year — and who, Republicans said, pressured Mr. Conrad into complying.
On Tuesday, Mr. Reid declined to answer specific questions about his strategy but told reporters he had “nothing but confidence for Kent Conrad.”
Given the opposition, Mr. Conrad instead decided to try to revive the Bowles-Simpson plan, named after former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson, who led a commission that produced a plan for raising taxes and limiting spending — all designed to reduce long-term deficits.
But it has simmered in the background, with lawmakers occasionally saying it should serve as a basis for negotiations — only to see both Democratic and Republican leaders block their efforts.
Mr. Conrad, a member of the commission, said the plan needs to be updated, but that his version will lower the debt to 93 percent of gross domestic product by 2022 — it is more than 100 percent now — and would push for changes in Social Security, while preserving Mr. Obama’s health care law.
Under Mr. Conrad’s plan, spending would be nearly 22 percent of GDP in 2022 and taxes would be 20.5 percent. Both numbers are well above the average for the past six decades, but the North Dakota Democrat said those are the levels needed to fund the government’s promises.
In 2012, spending will account for about 24 percent of GDP and taxes will total about 16 percent.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Lois Lerner emails reveal gaping open-records loophole
- Two-thirds of illegal immigrant children approved for asylum: report
- Top Justice official denies conspiring with IRS on tea party targeting
- Boehner: No bill on border surge
- Taking Obama to court a long shot but lawsuit not folly, Congress is told
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- SOWELL:Bordering on immigration madness
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq