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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Senate Democrats promise something rare: An actual federal budget

Senate minority leader Harry Reid(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate minority leader Harry Reid
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Democrats are looking to make new revenue part of the Senate’s first budget in almost four years, which will be released soon after the start of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Obama has pushed for a “balanced approach” to solving the nation’s financial woes, including more tax revenue.

Republicans for years have complained bitterly that Senate Democrats last produced a comprehensive budget in 2009 and say that, if Obama and fellow Democrats want to borrow more money, they’ll have to outline a spending plan.

Senate Democrats announced Sunday that they will oblige and produce a budget — but warned it will include higher taxes that Republicans oppose.

“We’re going to do a budget this year,” Schumer said hours before Obama officially began his second term. “And it’s going to have revenues in it. And our Republican colleagues better get used to that fact.”

The tough talk by Schumer, the number-three Democrat in the Senate, follows House Republicans’ announcement last week that they would approve a short-term increase in the nation’s borrowing limit without linking that to demands for spending cuts. Democrats called it a step in the right direction but also said the extension should be longer than the three months the GOP is offering.

White House senior adviser David Plouffe said the brief extension “is no way to run an economy or a railroad or anything else” and seemed cool on the proposal. Yet he said Obama would review Republicans’ ideas once they’re in the form of legislation.

“We haven’t seen what they’re proposing, and they’re going to have to pass it,” he said, hinting at House Speaker John Boehner‘s difficulty in rounding up enough votes within his Republican caucus to pass his own party’s proposals.

House Republican leaders on Friday offered Obama a three-month increase to the nation’s credit card and a dodge to a looming, market-rattling debt crisis. They backed off demands that any immediate extension of the government’s borrowing authority be accompanied by stiff spending cuts to confront the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt.

They also added a caveat designed to prod Senate Democrats to pass a budget: no pay for lawmakers if there again is no budget passed this year. House Republicans have passed budgets for two consecutive years.

“There is no doubt the Senate hadn’t done its job,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and a favorite of tea partyers who was elected to his first term in November. “It’s been nearly four years since it’s passed a budget. And the Senate should pass a budget.”

Democrats are saying they will release a budget, but it won’t be what Republicans want.

Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopolous whether Obama “will only sign a budget deal if it includes new revenues,” Plouffe agreed.

“Yes, it’s got to be balanced,” said Plouffe, who expects to leave his first-floor West Wing office soon. “We need spending cuts, entitlement reform and revenue. We have to have that.”

Schumer and Cruz spoke with NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Plouffe appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union,” ”ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’ “Face the Nation.” No House Republicans appeared on the networks’ Sunday morning talk shows to represent their proposal.


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