Democrats' Budget Plan Needs Restructured

At the beginning of this Congress, Republicans and Democrats pledged to work together across party lines to benefit hard-working Americans.  Unfortunately, the Democrats’ 2008 budget — which penalizes Americans with an extra $736 billion in taxes, ignores the crisis of entitlement programs, and plunges our nation deeper into debt — does not live up to that promise.

Make no mistake, after only a few months on the job and waves of election rhetoric promising tax relief for the middle-class and the return to fiscal sense in Washington, this Democratic-controlled Congress has reverted to its tax-and-spend roots.

Not only has this Congress added $205 billion in discretionary spending to the President’s proposal, but also contains the largest tax hike in U.S. history — three times larger than any other increase.

The last time we saw a tax increase even remotely this big was in the Democratic-controlled Congress of 1993.  And we know what happened the following year: voter anger put Republicans in charge of both chambers for the first time since 1954.

Back in January of this year I underscored our responsibility in the 110th Congress to tackle big issues for the American people.  That’s why one of the largest disappointments in this budget is its utter failure to address the imminent budgetary crisis facing Social Security and Medicare.

Despite campaign promises of reforming entitlement programs, the 2008 budget instead leaves these budgetary crises for another day.  And in addition to failing to reform these programs for the future, this budget raids our current Social Security surplus of more than $1 trillion right now.

With this budget, Americans can expect a greater strain on their wallets, an increase in wasteful government spending, no answers on the future of their Social Security system, and an even heavier deficit and debt for the next generation.

So in response, Sen. Judd Gregg (R.-N.H.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and I introduced The Stop Overspending Act of 2007, or “S.O.S.”  The legislation is designed to restrain spending, balance the budget, and make it harder to raise taxes. 

This bill would allow the President to target wasteful spending, withhold it from being spent for 45 days, and send a request to Congress for expedited consideration of a permanent cancellation of the targeted spending.  It would also reinstate caps on spending, enforceable by an across-the-board reduction if Congress fails to adhere to caps.

Putting us on the road to solvency, the bill creates an automatic deficit reduction mechanism to balance the budget by 2012, and includes procedures to slow the growth rate for entitlement programs if Congress fails to meet deficit reduction targets.

And to ensure that hard-working taxpayers are not forced to pick up the tab for irresponsible government spending, the bill would require a new 60-vote hurdle to any federal income tax rate increases. 

This is a bill that Sen. Gregg and I are confident will keep our economy healthy.  We’ve already seen the successes of Republican economic policies — in fact, taxpayers are enjoying many of them right now.

This year’s tax-and-spend budget is a mistake.  But the S.O.S. bill is the first necessary step in returning common sense to our budgeting process.