Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) “on Thursday called the way the U.S. borrows money a ‘Ponzi scheme’ that could soon throw the country into financial turmoil,” according to the Floor Action blog.
"It took time for this to set in," said Risch, according to northern Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Press. "What I realized was this country is no longer the master of its own destiny."
Risch described in detail how the Bureau of Public Debt, through the U.S. Department of Treasury, goes about borrowing the $4 billion to $5 billion a day needed to keep the federal government running.
"There’s no money," said Risch. "It’s a Ponzi scheme."
The suddenly “white-hot issue of deficit caps — now a central front in the battle over raising the debt ceiling — will be the subject of a hearing Wednesday in the Senate Finance Committee,” Roll Call reports.
Panel Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) announced the hearing on the issue Thursday morning. It will include testimony from former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), who was part of the bipartisan Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction plan in the 1980s.
Baucus has said he backs the idea of a deficit cap as part of a plan to increase the federal debt ceiling. Republicans generally want spending caps instead, although they also are pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced in a press release statement today that the Senate “will vote on the budget President Obama submitted to Congress in February.”
“I understand that the Majority Leader would like to have a vote on the House-passed Ryan budget and we will,” McConnell said. “But we’ll have a vote on the President’s budget at the same time. Since there is no Democrat budget in the Senate, we’ll give our colleagues an opportunity to stand with the President in failing to address the problems facing our nation while calling for trillions in new spending, massive new debt and higher taxes on American energy, families and small businesses across the country.”
Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) “indicated this week he will work with colleagues committed to a ‘fiscally conservative budget’ as the parties try to forge a spending agreement for fiscal year 2012,” The Hill reports.
Calling himself a “fiscal hawk,” Nelson, who is up for reelection in 2012, said he wants to implement “substantial cuts” in government spending.
"We need to be engaging in even more cuts than we were able to make in the 2011 budget,” Nelson said at the Kearney Rotary Club, according to a news release from his office. "Let me reassure you that I’m for substantial cuts in government spending, but they must be made wisely."
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) “confirmed on a conference call with reporters Wednesday that he’ll force Senate Republicans to vote on the controversial House GOP budget,” Talking Points Memo reports.
"We’re going to have an opportunity in the Senate to vote for the [Paul] Ryan budget," Reid told reporters, to "see if Republicans in the Senate like the Ryan budget as much as their colleagues [in the House] did."
According to The Hill, Reid spokesman “Jon Summers confirmed that the majority leader will hold a vote on it, but said that the timing has not yet been decided.”
Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), pressured Reid to vote on a Democratic proposal.
"A better question is: when will he vote on the Democrat budget?" he said, "When [is he] going to vote on the president’s budget?"