posted on March 14, 2013 12:49
President Obama continued his outreach efforts on Capitol Hill this week with stops to meet personally with House of Representatives and Senate Republicans. However, Republicans intend to hold fast to their strategy of using the debt-limit increase this summer to force the president to cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Many Republicans view Obama’s outreach as primarily a defensive media strategy designed to brandish his bipartisan bona fides after his failed campaign to undo across-the-board spending cuts preceded skinning approval numbers. The only conversations that worry Republican leadership, however, are those occurring with moderate Senate Republicans. History has proven that there is little chance that Obama and House Republicans can strike a deal.
Meanwhile, House Democrats unveiled a fiscal 2014 budget proposal that aides say would increase revenues by more than $5.4 trillion over 10 years by creating additional tax brackets for the wealthy.
The plan adopts a proposal from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) that would create five additional brackets: $1 million-$10 million – 45 percent; $10 million-$20 million – 46 percent; $20 million-$100 million – 47 percent; $100 million-$1 billion – 48 percent; and $1 billion and over – 49 percent.
On Mar. 12, Senate Democrats introduced a budget resolution which promised to stabilize the debt over the next decade and raise new revenue and cut spending in equal parts. The Senate Democrats' budget was meant to land as a political counterpunch to the House Republican plan, an alternative political vision in a week of dueling budget blueprints.
Many of the policy proposals contained in the Senate Democrats' budget hew to familiar party talking points. The resolution calls for $975 billion in new revenue through the closing of unspecified tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy; $100 billion in stimulus-like spending for school infrastructure, job training, and other programs; and a full replacement of the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board sequester cuts that began to take effect in March.
The proposal also seeks to cut spending by $975 billion. The reductions could come in the form of $265 billion in yet-to-be-specified cuts from Medicare over the next decade, although no cuts from beneficiaries; $10 billion in Medicaid reductions; $240 billion in reduced defense spending; $142 billion in lower spending on nondefense discretionary programs; $242 billion in savings from interest payments; and another $76 billion in mandatory spending cuts.
The Senate Democrats' plan is somewhat vague, leaving many of the decisions about closing tax loopholes or the specifics of spending cuts to various Senate committees.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) argued last week that the budget resolution should not include instructions for tax reform, as it does, because that would impede the process of overhauling the tax code in 2013 or 2014 in a comprehensive way.
Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) criticized the Senate Democrats' proposal because it did not balance the budget in 10 years, as the House GOP plan does. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also pointed out that there was no way to cut $1 trillion in tax loopholes or breaks without hitting the middle class.