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Senate Dems release budget proposal for the first time in four years

Patty MurrayThe Senate Democrats have finally agreed to come to the bargaining table, bringing with them a proposal for a federal budget for the first time in four years.

The proposal, which was unveiled this afternoon by Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.), will add nearly $1 trillion in new taxes while cutting the federal deficit by the same amount through a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts.

“Our budget is built on three principles: Number one, we need to protect our fragile economic recovery, create jobs, and invest in long-term growth. Number two, we need to tackle our deficit and debt fairly and responsibly. And number three, we need to keep the promises we’ve made as a nation to our seniors, our families, and our communities,” Murray told the full committee this afternoon.

Her plan would also cut the federal deficit by $1.9 trillion over the next decade, and includes $275 billion in health care savings through Obamacare and $100 billion in stimulus spending for a “targeted economic recovery plan” aimed at repairing the country’s collapsing infrastructure.

The plan would also stop the next nine years of the planned sequester, instead replacing it with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.

It does not, however, call for a balanced budget – a key feature of the budgets drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). Ryan’s latest budget proposal was unveiled in the House yesterday.

“While House Republicans are doubling down on the extreme budget that the American people already rejected, Senate Democrats are going to be working on a responsible budget that puts jobs and the economy first and reflects the values and priorities of middle-class families across the country,” Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

While the Senate has stalled on drafting a federal budget proposal for most of President Obama’s tenure, Murray announced shortly after assuming the post that developing the blueprint for a federal budget was her top priority.

Ryan’s budget, however, will seek to balance the federal budget within 10 years through deep cuts to domestic programs without raising taxes.  Like his earlier plans, the proposal would partially privatize Medicare, turn Medicaid and food stamps into block grant programs, and make more federal land available for drilling and mining.

The biggest sticking point between the two budgets is Obamacare. Ryan’s budget calls for a complete repeal of the controversial law, noting that gutting the program will help the country achieve fiscal solvency within 10 years.

“These are increases that have not come yet, so by repealing Obamacare and the Medicaid expansions, which haven’t occurred yet, we are basically preventing an explosion of a program that is already failing,” Ryan told Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace this past weekend. “So, we’re saying ‘don’t grow this program through Obamacare because it doesn’t work,’ and by not pushing people into this program we do save these kinds of dollars.”

While both plans are expected to pass in their respective chambers, the real challenge will be merging the two in conference later this Spring. Congress is also still waiting on a proposed budget from President Obama, who has failed yet again to deliver his budget proposal on time.


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