|Read: Tale of Two Budgets|
The Senate is in recess until next Monday. Yesterday the rejected (45-54) an amendment to pending H.R. 933 made by Sen. Tom Coburn, MD, (R-OK) to temporarily freeze the hiring of nonessential Federal employees. The democrats won't even "temporarily" stop even hiring "nonessential" Federal employees! One democrat, Sen. McCaskill (MO) joined her Republican colleague Sen. Roy Blunt (MO) voted for the amendment. However, neighboring democrat Senator Mark Pryor (AR) failed to do the same and voted lockstep with the democrats against the temporary freeze. Pryor is up for re-election in 2014 and continues to vote against the will of the majority of Arkansans as if he might not be running again for office.
The Senate also rejected (54-45) an Amendment by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) with votes 100% along party lines. Harkin's amendment would have rewritten the House bill in numerous areas. Note, Sen. Harkins age 73, a former U.S. Congressman, will not seek re-election in 2014.
The House met for a part of today and passed H.R. 803 (215-202) — The SKILLS Act - "To reform and strengthen the workforce investment system of the Nation to put Americans back to work and make the United States more competitive in the 21st century." Four Republican amendments to the bill were passed prior to the final vote, 1 Republican amendment was withdrawn and 1 Democrat amendment was defeated. The SKILLS Act replaces the former Workforce Investment Act. Speaker Boehner responded to the passage of this bill, "By upgrading the nation’s job-training system, the SKILLS Act stands to help millions of Americans in their efforts to find work in this tough economy. Having run a small business, I know how crucial it is to find the right candidates for the right positions, and this measure will go a long way towards making that connection easier. It eliminates and streamlines dozens of overlapping federal programs. And it ensures that reform goes hand in hand with transparency and accountability – something hard-working taxpayers deserve. . . . The Senate should follow our lead and give America’s job-seekers a vote on the SKILLS Act.”
This week we saw a movement on budgets with House Budget Committee released the Republican lead budget on Tuesday. Then in a major change of efforts, the Senate Senate Budget finally after four years released the Democrat lead budget. And, again we are still waiting for the overdue Presidential budget (thus the editorial cartoon above). The Patriot Post provides an excellent "Tail of Two Budgets" addressing the two budgets. Worth the read, even the Ryan Plan gets some red marks.
Known for being a straight talker, Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), doesn't have any kind words for Sen. Murray's budget plan. Phillips said, "The budget submitted by Senate Democrats calls for $1.5 trillion in higher taxes, trillions more in new spending, and does absolutely nothing to address the broken entitlement system our country is facing. Senator Murray has no plan to ever balance the budget, and instead does the exact opposite - increasing spending and adding an additional $7 trillion to the national debt.
"Overall, Murray’s plan is very dangerous for Americans and our economy as a whole. Continuing out-of-control spending means raising taxes on you, at a time when many Americans can’t afford more tax increases. To not cut spending is irresponsible, but to not even mention it is pure insanity." You can keep up with AFP's policy team's analysis at their Budget & Spending Issue Page.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council also had few good word for the Sen. Murray budget plan. Perkins' said, "Although Democrats insist Murray's proposal would reduce the deficit, it does so far less ambitiously than the House budget. Depending on whose math you use, the Murray budget would cut anywhere from $650 billion to $1.85 trillion from the deficit (mostly thorough accounting gimmicks as opposed to real cuts). But by 2023, Americans would still be dealing with a half-trillion budget shortfall -- whereas Ryan's measure could create as much as a $7 billion surplus in the same time period." Murray's budget "pushes for $162 billion more spending next year than this year--and for every page of spending cuts (11), she proposes three and a half pages (39) of new stimulus spending. 'Their budget never balances -- ever,' Ryan noted. 't simply takes more from hardworking families to spend more in Washington' That's just one of the differences between the two measures"
While the Murray plan should really be DOA, it will in the end force a conference between the House and Senate for a final budget deal. However, the Ryan plan is not without its negatives.
The previous fiscal cliff deal allowed taxes to rise by $620 billion dollars; Ryan leaves those higher revenues in his budget. AFP opposed the fiscal cliff deal because of the higher taxes; this budget cements them.
- Tax Reform: Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp have committed to doing tax reform. Their goals include: o Individual: Two Brackets, 10% and 25% o Individual: Repeal Alternative Minimum Tax o Eliminate Deductions and Credits: no list of what they’re targeting o Corporate: Top rate of 25% o Corporate: Move to territorial system
- Health Care o Repeals the spending portion of the President’s law § Repeals the $1.2 trillion in exchange subsidies § Repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board o Does not explicitly repeal the taxes in the President’s law o Medicaid: Block grants Medicaid & food stamps (SNAP) o Medicare: premium support that is the same as his plan last year
- Discretionary Spending o Extends the BCA caps for two more years o Increases federal employee contribution to their pension plans o Provides some flexibility on defense spending, while keeping the caps in place
- Energy o Permits the Keystone Pipeline o Expanded oil and gas leasing o Stops the government from buying up land to lock off production
- Housing o Winds down Fannie and Freddie
- Social Security: nothing. He punts to the President and asks him to come up with a plan
- Death Tax: nothing.
- Taxes: keeps the higher taxes from the fiscal cliff deal and doesn’t explicitly repeal the President’s health care.
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