CHN: Senate Budget Resolution: Maybe Next Week?
Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-ND) has been working to secure support for his FY 2012 budget plan among committee Democrats. He needs every one of them if the budget is to pass, since no Republicans are expected to vote for it. In initial discussions, Senator Sanders (I-VT) has been prominent in seeking fewer spending cuts and more revenue increases. Chairman Conrad has been a strong supporter of increased revenues as part of any deficit reduction package. It is reported that his budget will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade, with $2 trillion from increased revenues, $1.5 trillion from spending reductions, and $600 billion from the lower interest payments that would occur as borrowing decreased. Among the revenue raisers reportedly under consideration is a 3 percent surtax on millionaires. According to Congressional Quarterly, $900 billion of the spending cuts would come from the military, $300 billion from domestic appropriations other than homeland security or veterans’ services, and $300 billion from mandatory spending (such as Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, etc.).
Such an approach would be far more protective of low- and moderate-income people than the House Budget Resolution, and would most likely avoid restrictive changes in Medicaid, Medicare, and SNAP/food stamps that would hamper the federal capacity to respond to growing need in an economic downturn.
The Senate Budget Committee may take up the Budget Resolution on May 18, but the difficulties in winning enough support to get the resolution both through the Committee and the full Senate may result in further delay. Budget resolutions can be passed with only a majority vote in the Senate, so passage should be possible, since 53 Senators caucus with the Democrats. But since some Democrats have been supporting more spending cuts and fewer revenue increases, action next week remains uncertain.