Four years after they last passed a budget through the Senate, Democrats announced a new blueprint for federal spending Wednesday that proposes significant tax increases, new stimulus spending and some budget cuts — making slight headway in controlling federal debt.
The nonbinding spending plan, drafted by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, calls for almost $1 trillion in new taxes and an equal amount of spending cuts during the next 10 years. Much of those savings, though, would be used to cancel other spending cuts from sequestration, which kicked in earlier this month.
“There are no sacred cows, we put everything we can on the table, but we do it in a responsible way that preserves, protects and strengthens the programs like Medicare and Medicaid that the American people strongly support,” Mrs. Murray said Wednesday during opening statements of the committee’s expected two-day hearing to debate and vote on the plan.
Her plan, which projects deficits throughout the 10-year budget window, contrasts sharply with House Republicans, whose plan released this week calls for deep spending cuts, forbids new tax revenues and reaches balance in 2023.
Over the next 10 years, the Murray plan calls for spending cuts that would reduce the deficit by $975 billion. That number includes $493 billion in cuts to domestic programs — including $275 billion in health care savings — and $240 billion in defense cuts. It also is designed to save $242 billion in reduced interest payments.
On the tax side, the Democratic proposal aims to save another $975 billion by closing tax “loopholes,” particularly from the nation’s most wealthy and corporations.
Her proposal would fast-track the tax increases under special budget rules that would allow them to pass on a majority vote, preventing the GOP from filibustering them. Republicans used the same tactic to pass tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and Democrats used the strategy to pass their health care law in 2009.
But Republicans said the Murray plan was nothing more than recycled “tax and spend” proposals Democrats have pushed for years.
“Is it really possible that after four years, the majority has failed to identify any reforms? That all we have is just a tax-and-spend budget that makes no alteration to our dangerous debt course?” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the budget panel’s top Republican.
Mr. Sessions also accused Mrs. Murray of using fuzzy math, saying her plan would increase taxes by $1.5 trillion over 10 years — not the $975 billion she proposes.
Republicans on the budget committee also complained that Mrs. Murray refused to show them — or the media — her budget plan until after Wednesday’s committee hearing, saying the move gave them little time to review the complex document before voting on it Thursday.
The Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget plan since 2009. That $3.5 trillion proposal called for health care, energy and education reforms pushed by President Obama that year, and promised to slice annual deficit to less than $600 billion — about half of the $1.2 trillion projected deficit for 2010.
Democrat-crafted budget blueprint passed the budget committee in 2010, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, refused to bring it to the full Senate for a vote. That plan promised to freeze nonsecurity discretionary spending for three years and cut discretionary spending by $4 billion below Mr. Obama’s requested levels.