This was an eventual week in Washington as both chambers each passed their own budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. This shouldn’t be a big deal. The House has done its duty, passing budgets in 2011 and 2012. However, the Senate had not, until yesterday morning, passed a budget since April 29, 2009. And they budget they did finally pass never balances is loaded with $1 trillion in tax hikes.
In the weekly Republican address, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) explains why the Senate’s budget falls short on priorities and defies logic and he also slammed President Barack Obama for not submitting his budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“This week, the United States Senate finally took up its annual budget,” noted Lee. “This shoudn’t be news, but Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in four years. The President has again failed to follow the law requiring him to submit his budget by the first Monday in February.”
Lee added, “In what clearly falls into the category of ‘a day late and a dollar short,’ he announced that he wouldn’t submit his budget until the second week of April.”
“To Republicans, the budget isn’t just about dollars; it’s about sense: common sense,” said Lee. “A budget is the only way to end the non-sense of Washington’s out of control spending. Reckless government spending has laid nearly $17 trillion of debt onto the backs of hardworking Americans.”
For the first time since April 29, 2009, the United States Senate has passed a budget. Early this morning, the Senate finished voting on dozens of amendments and gave final passage to its version of the budget — which never balances and raises taxes by $1 trillion — by a vote of 50 to 49.
It was mostly a party-line vote, 48 Democrats and two Independents, both of whom caucus with the party in power, voted for passage. Four Democrats — Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Pryor (D-AR) — joined all 45 Republicans in opposition. It just so happens that every Democrat who voted against the budget is up for re-election next year.
Sens. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Mark Warner (D-ND) are also up for re-election next year. Their votes in favor of the budget will no doubt be brought up by their opponents.
Negotiators from the House, which passed its budget proposal on Thursday, and Senate will soon meet in a conference committee to try to reconcile their vast differences. Because they’re so far apart — with the House wanting a balanced budget in 10 years, tax reform, and entitlement reform and the Senate pushing $1 trillion in tax hikes and an perpetually unbalanced budget — agreement on a budget for FY 2014 looks unlikely.
Last night, the Senate symbolically voted to repeal yet another part of ObamaCare — the medical device tax. This provision will imposed 2.3% tax on medical devices, which could lead to the loss of some 43,000 jobs:
By a vote of 79 to 20, the Senate moved to rescind the 2.3 percent tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devices. The tax will raise nearly $2 billion in new revenue in 2013 and $20 billion over the next seven years.
Thursday night’s vote was nonbinding since it was on an amendment to a Senate budget resolution which is not likely to result in a budget plan that Republican-controlled House would agree to.
The medical device tax is one of $24.6 billion in 2013 tax increases mandated by the Affordable Care Act which took effect on Jan. 1.
Click here to see how your Senators voted.
Not only would the medical device tax hit the medical industry and hurt innovation, consumers would have been hit with higher healthcare costs. The tax was even blamed for an increase in prices for pet owners at vet offices.
Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed — in a 221-207 vote — the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). This is the third conservative year in which the House has passed a budget. The budget passed this morning, while not perfect, does balance the budget in 10 years, enacts tax reform, and brings Medicare on a sustainable path. Unfortunately, it doesn’t repeal any of the ObamaCare taxes and ultimately doesn’t cut enough in spending, which is way some House conservatives — including Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Thomas Massie — voted against it.
The Senate has just proposed its first budget in four years, which, by the way, the Senate will raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion and it never balances. We’re still waiting on President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, though he’s had time to get his March Madness brackets filled out.
Sen. Rand Paul, however, laid out a blueprint during his speech at CPAC that will have the budget balanced in five years, doing so by eliminating cabinet departments, cutting spending, and repealing ObamaCare.
Not only will the budget being pushed by Senate Democrats raise taxes by nearly $1 trillion, they want to make it easier for states to go after tax dollars from online sales.
The budget proposed is in the Senate is bad enough. As noted, it’ll raise taxes by $1 trillion, it doesn’t balance the budget or set a path to pay down the national debt, and many of the savings in the proposal are double-counted. How could they possibly make it worse? By adding the Marketplace Fairness Act, which will apparently be presented as an amendment to the budget as early as this week.
While the bill has nice name, it’s protectionist in nature. It’s being pushed by traditional, brick-and-mortar retailers who have seen their business slide due to the popularity and convenience of online retailers. Many governors — including some Republicans — also like it because it would give them a new revenue stream.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced yesterday that Assault Weapons Ban, a pet measure of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) doesn’t have enough votes to pass and wouldn’t be included in the measures that will be brought to the floor of the chamber next month:
Senior Senate Democrats bluntly acknowledged Tuesday that a proposed federal ban on assault weapons will not become law, bowing to the political calculus that only lesser gun control measures stand a chance of passing Congress, despite three months of emotional national debate since the Connecticut school massacre.
In separate remarks to reporters, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., both said they do not see Feinstein’s far-reaching proposal on assault weapons passing the Senate, let alone the Republican-led House, where opposition to the measure is even stronger.
Feinstein will apparently offer the bill as an amendment to other measures that will be brought forward in the Senate, but she refused to admit that she’s lost this fight. Maybe she should. According to Roll Call, Reid said, “Right now, her amendment — using the most optimistic numbers— has less than 40 votes. That’s not 60.” Additionally, Politico reports that the universal background check measure may also be in jeopardy.
The budget battle is taking shape. On one hand you have a budget proposal from House Republicans that takes steps to deal with entitlement reform and balance nation’s finances in 10 years and on the other you have Senate Democrats pushing for nearly $1 trillion tax hike and a perpetually unbalanced budget:
The first budget from Senate Democrats in four years includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes but would not balance the budget.
The blueprint unveiled by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday to her Democratic colleagues would also turn off the next nine years of the sequester and replace those spending cuts with a 50-50 mix of tax increases and spending cuts.
The budget would dedicate $100 billion to economic stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and job training.
While Rep. Ryan’s imperfect, but respectable budget would trim $4.6 trillion from budget deficits over the next decade, Sen. Murray’s proposal would only trim $1.85 trillion over that same timeframe. Sen. Murray’s budget would raise tax revenue by closing tax loopholes. That would be good, broad-based tax policy, provided that the increased revenues are used to lower overall tax rates.
Just a friendly reminder that the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, hasn’t passed in 1,400 days. The last time they took it upon themselves to perform the government’s most basic function was April 29, 2009.
It looks like Senate Democrats, who have not passed a budget since April 29, 2009, are once again falling down on the job. Over at the Washington Examiner, Conn Carroll notes that they’re blaming the sequester for their failure to perform one of the most basic functions of government:
Well that was fast. Less than a month after Senate Democrats passed a debt limit hike that included a provision delaying their pay if they failed to pass a budget this year, Senate Democrats are already signaling that no budget should be expected.
“Senator Murray is working on a budget right now and we hope we can get that done,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., told CNN yesterday. “But we need time. So the sequestration will prevent — preempt us from getting a budget done and other factors.”
So don’t blame the Democrats if they can’t pass a budget. It’s the sequester’s fault. Never mind that Democrats never had any intention of passing a budget anyway. Pressed to commit to a budget in November, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash., told The Hill she “had no idea” whether Democrats could come to an agreement.
With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection coming up in 2014, numerous individuals have been looking at taking a whack at the Kentucky senator. He’s annoyed grassroots conservatives, libertarian Republicans, and Tea Party types for awhile now, both for his deals with Senate Democrats to keep things moving (such as the recent deal on filibusters) and just because he really hasn’t done anything to cut spending.
Recently, though, this irritation has built a bridge between Kentucky conservatives and Kentucky liberals, and an unlikely grouping of very strange bedfellows indeed are exploring the possibilities of an alliance against him. Seth Mandel at Commentary magazine doesn’t like this at all:
The sometimes contradictory nature of the grassroots conservative criticism of GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was apparent a few weeks ago when one conservative group began to advertise against McConnell from the right. It turned out this same group, which rates members of Congress on their dedication to conservative principles and freedom, gives McConnell a 95 percent rating.