Morning Action: Two Budgets Represent Alternative Visions for America
RYAN BUDGET. Two vastly different budgets will be introduced in Congress this week (sub. req’d), one from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and one from a “dedicated liberal,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA):
Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), heads of the Senate and House budget committees, will propose budget resolutions that set tax and spending targets for the entire federal government starting Oct. 1. Their work marks an attempt to steer Congress back toward its traditional role of passing a budget each year, rather than the stopgap funding measures used to keep government running in recent years.
The blueprints, from the parties’ budget chiefs, cement how far apart Democrats and Republicans are on tax and spending policy. Mr. Ryan’s budget will include no new tax increases or Pentagon cuts while advancing big changes to Medicare and Medicaid, all with the goal of erasing the annual federal deficit in 10 years. Ms. Murray’s plan is expected to increase taxes on upper-income households and corporations and make modest spending cuts to domestic programs; it wouldn’t balance the budget anytime soon.
DEMOCRAT BUDGET. The Senate doesn’t have the best track record for passing a budget – they haven’t passed a regular budget in four years. It’s still “proving a test” for them:
Disputes over tax cuts, spending reductions and entitlement reform all present challenges to Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The Democrats’ narrow 12-10 majority on the panel means one defection would mean failure, if Republicans stick together as expected.
Murray, who took over the Budget panel this year, hopes to move legislation through the committee by Thursday. So this week is critical.
Senate Democrats are tired of the GOP taunts over their failure to pass a budget since 2009 — it is one of Congress’s primary duties — and are determined to get a 10-year measure through the Senate before the Easter recess starts on March 22.
TAXES. Democrats are not unanimous on the issue of tax reform since those up for reelection have pressure from their constituents not to raise taxes again. Their attitudes vary, but it is not too cynical to suggest hesitant Senate Democrats may be more willing to hike tax revenue after securing reelection in 2014:
But the attitudes of these lawmakers are noteworthy, given the recent attention paid to divisions among House Republican leaders about whether tax reform is a worthwhile pursuit. When it comes to an overhaul, Democrats have their own differences that must be bridged.
NO REFORM. House Democrats have expressed their adamant opposition to real entitlement reform that might occur in a so-called grand bargain between the President and Congress:
One hundred and seven of the 200 House Democrats signed a letter to Obama threatening to vote “against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”
Instead, they want the White House to “rely on economic growth and more fair revenue-raising policies to solve our fiscal problems,” like getting rid of subsidies for big businesses and raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
SELLING ACCESS. It may not be at the White House, but President Obama will speak Wednesday to Organizing for Action:
President Barack Obama will speak to a Wednesday night dinner for donors and grass-roots supporters at the “founders’ summit ”of Organizing for Action, the nonprofit successor organization to his campaign, officials said.
The summit, to be held Wednesday and Thursday at a Washington hotel, is aimed at keeping supporters motivated ahead of tough congressional fights on gun legislation and immigration reform and to take their temperature about the future of the organization.
Advisers said topics will include the sequence of issues the president will pursue, the greater challenge of recruiting volunteers compared to a campaign and tactics that have been successful in mobilizing supporters since the election.