Schumer Seeks to Change Budget Debate

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “called the Republican Party’s bluff on the need for deficit reduction Wednesday, outlining a fiscal framework that involves broader cuts and revenue raisers than the GOP has proposed — and warning that there will be no agreement on funding the government unless the GOP broadens its approach,” Talking Points Memo reports.

"A bipartisan compromise simply will not be found in the domestic discretionary spending cuts alone," Schumer said in a half-hour presentation at the Center for American Progress. Without a broader scope, Schumer said, "we won’t be able to come to a compromise on a seven month budget."

Schumer’s entreaty changes the frame of the debate on Capitol Hill, which for weeks has been driven by Republican leaders, who have isolated their focus to domestic discretionary spending. Democratic leaders, who are unwilling to countenance major cuts to government services, had little luck playing on GOP turf, but will now have a coherent alternative to point to when negotiations over how to fund the government continue in coming days.

Schumer noted that the GOP’s plan for spending cuts does almost nothing to reduce the deficit — a fact that runs at cross-purposes to their insistence that the deficit must be reduced.

Schumer endorsed “the approaches taken by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, both of whom reduced or eliminated deficits by cutting discretionary spending and addressing entitlements and tax revenues.”

He identified achievable savings on all three flanks, including cuts to defense spending, agriculture subsidies, and a surtax on millionaires and billionaires.

"I noted with interest last week’s Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, the most popular proposal to reduce the deficit out of 23 options surveyed was a tax — a surtax — on millionaires and billionaires," Schumer said. "It’s not only a popular thing to do, it’s the right thing to do."

Schumer left Social Security off the table, noting that it doesn’t run into real actuarial problems for decades, and isn’t a contributor to the deficit.

According to The Hill, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “shot back at Schumer in remarks Wednesday morning on the Senate floor.”

"Democrats’ steadfast refusal to cut another dime from the bloated Washington budget has left them no choice, it seems, but to propose raising taxes on American families and small businesses so that they can continue spending at unsustainable levels," the GOP leader said. "Republicans, on the other hand, have made a serious proposal to rein in wasteful spending. So to me, at least, the choice before us is pretty clear."

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Filed under Budget, Party Leadership, Social Security, Taxes

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