Their own plan doesn't even come close to balancing, of course, and they're not interested in other ideas to get there. The first Republican amendment they torpedoed yesterday called for increasing federal spending at a clip of "only" 3.4 percent per year over the next decade, rather than the major acceleration that Democrats have advanced. The second proposed making it more procedurally difficult to pass a budget that does not balance with ten years. Watch as each Democrat-aligned committee member votes in lockstep against these provisions. Make no mistake, they are explicitly rejecting a balanced federal budget (the roll call begins at the 1:15 mark):
If these Senators appear slightly perturbed in the clip, it might be because they'd just endured a contentious mark-up hearing. Politico describes the acrimony:
During Thursday morning’s hearing, Republican members came out swinging, using time that was allocated to ask technical questions of the staff to make the case that the budget lacks any deficit reductions and instead grows the size of government. “I would really appreciate it if you would stop claiming $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction. It’s false. It’s false,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said after a series of tense exchanges with a budget staffer. “It’s not false,” the staffer responded. “It’s false, I’m done,” Johnson shot back. The fight centered around how the budget is calculated and whether there should be assumptions made that the sequester will be replaced or spending for the war in Afghanistan will drop substantially. All told, Democrats made the case that the 10-year deficit reduction in the budget would be $1.85 trillion. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican, led the opposition, arguing the baseline, the assumption about the cost of government, was out of line.
“You can’t flip-flop baselines around here all over the place,” Sessions told the staff. When a staffer compared the Senate base to Ryan’s baseline, Sessions wasn’t pleased. “Mr. Ryan’s budget is honest and it’s paid for and this is not,” Sessions shot back. Sessions argued that the Democratic proposal would only reduce the deficit by $700 billion. “When the American people are hearing this, they’re hearing our colleagues announce with great pride that they’re reducing the deficit by $1.85 trillion,” Sessions said. “I’m deeply disappointed it does not do that. It makes no change in the debt course of America, leaving us on an unsustained path.” Sessions repeatedly called the budget proposal a “lie” and “false.” Murray, presiding over the meeting, tried frequently to cut off debate to allow for questions and eventually she seemed exhausted by the effort.
As a point of fact, Johnson and Sessions are correct on these counts. The Hill and other news organizations have confirmed that Democrats' budget numbers register at most $800 billion in deficit reductions over ten years, even setting aside its accelerated spending course. Their exploitation of the unrealistic CBO baseline -- which we explained yesterday -- renders a number of their "cut" claims even more dubious. Especially dishonest was Murray's statement (not included the shortened version of the video), er, "in rebut" to Sessions' amendment, in which she claimed that the new budget, plus previous savings, add up to the Simpson-Bowles recommended level of $4 trillion in deficit relief. Between phony gimmicks and double-counting, she's not even in the ballpark of $4 trillion, which is probably why Sessions felt compelled to use words like "lie" throughout the hearing. I'll leave you with liberal commentator Ezra Klein expressing...some skepticism over the Democrats' first budgetary offering since 2009:
...The problem with Murray’s budget is that it is almost entirely devoted to saying what it won’t do, and it gets very vague when the topic turns to what it will. In the “Reducing Health Costs Responsibly” section, for instance, the Senate Democrats’ budget says, “first and foremost, the Senate Budget rejects the approach taken by House Republicans when it comes to cuts to health care.” Fair enough. But it never really says, with any specificity, what Senate Democrats will do. The budget speaks of “$275 billion in savings by further realigning incentives throughout the system, cutting waste and fraud, and seeking greater engagement across the health care system,” but at no point across its 114 pages does it name these savings. There’s talk of building on the Affordable Care Act’s efforts, but few specifics. Similarly, the tax reform section is a lengthy defense of the need for more tax revenues, and the idea of closing loopholes, but in the end, it punts on the specifics, saying simply that ”the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax legislation, could generate this additional revenue through a variety of different methods.”
This isn't merely an unbalanced tax-and-spend document, it's a uselessly vague, unbalanced tax-and-spend document. We waited four years for this? Yup. It was advanced out of committee last night on a party-line, 12-10 vote.