The Senate went through what amounted to a formality as Democrats completed their ambitious budget markup on Thursday. As was the case with their Democrat counterparts in the House, the Senate Budget Committee did not allow any substantive Republican amendments during the “markup” process, adopting a budget resolution practically identical to the President’s additional $3.66 trillion dollar spending orgy, this time proposed as a budget.
I caught up with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) for a chat in the hallway before the proceedings began yesterday. Unlike the House concurrent budget resolution, the Senate budget does not include the reconciliation directive language that the House included in their budget resolution.
I asked the senator (who is a member of the Budget Committee) about the risks of passage by parliamentary maneuvers of a budget that would include nationalized healthcare and the $3,100 per family annual energy tax through the “cap and trade” scheme posed by Democrats.
“There are still provisions in the House budget that could be added to the conference report after the Senate passes its budget and the House passes its budget and it goes to conference committee, it could be added in at that time,” Cornyn said. “It is too early to let off our guard.”
I asked the senator if a point of order under the Byrd rule might be raised which would require a 60 vote threshold for passage of any conference report that added major pieces of legislation such as the government takeover of healthcare or imposing the huge energy tax.
“My hope is it would be,” Cornyn said. “I think reconciliation, particularly trying to put things like healthcare or climate change, to pass that through the reconciliation process I think would be a terrible mistake and would result in a polarizing effect in Congress. I think it would be reflected in a lot of ways in the future and I think damage any efforts toward bipartisan cooperation.”
During a break in the markup, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, discussed with me his grim outlook on nationalizing health care and what lies ahead for the possibility of the massive energy tax being added to the budget.
“They have the votes and they’ll report out their budget and they’re obviously not going to tolerate any amendments that have any impact on it,” Gregg said. “There will be no changes to their budget, they will need only 51 votes to pass their budget instead of 60. … The only reason they put reconciliation into the House vehicle is because they want to stick it in conference. The House doesn’t have any need for reconciliation. Reconciliation is purely an animal of the Senate. But the Senate Democrats don’t want to vote on it straight up or down, they want to bury it in a conference report out of the House. They’ll have the reconciliation and it looks like they’re going to use it on healthcare. Harry Reid today said that they were thinking of using it on healthcare. They could use it for cap and trade.”
And as Sen. Gregg predicted, Democrats did not allow any substantive amendments and passed their budget resolution out of committee last night by a straight party-line vote of 13 to 10. The full Senate will debate the budget resolution next week.
‘Here it is, Mr. President!’
House Republican leadership yesterday challenged President Obama’s assertion that Republicans have not offered solutions to the issues facing Americans today. At the unveiling of the new alternative budget blueprint yesterday, House Republican leader John Boehner held the document in the air exclaiming, “Here it is, Mr. President!”
“The Republican Road to Recovery” provides a detailed outline of the principles behind the upcoming GOP alternative budget that will be introduced in the House next week. As was the case when Obama released a blueprint days before the actual release of his $3.66 trillion budget, Republicans pronounced their budget process is well underway yesterday at this blueprint release event.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Conference, said at the blueprint unveiling yesterday, “After years of runaway spending at the federal level, the American people want this Congress to put our fiscal house in order. Instead, President Barack Obama has brought forward the most fiscally irresponsible budget in American history. It spends too much, borrows too much, and taxes too much, and the American people know it.”
The Republican blueprint describes a budget that will undo fraud and abuse by ending the Obama “stimulus bill” plans for the exorbitant Democrat spending binge on things such as the $900 million for the terrorist group Hamas or the programs making available $4.2 billion for “community stabilization” to groups such a ACORN.
Democrats are maneuvering to include the president’s socialized medicine plan into their budget, a system that would be run by bureaucrats and would decrease the quality and availability of medical care. In Canada and in Europe, patients are being forced to file lawsuits against the government in an effort to obtain medical treatments as care is limited and rationed. Socialized medicine puts into the hands of government the power to decide what treatments you will receive based upon the cost of that treatment, fatality rates and your age.
In the alternative, Republicans are putting forth in their budget a plan to give millions more working families and small business owners access to affordable healthcare through tax incentives and would offer free-market solutions for lowering cost such as the ability to shop across state lines for the best prices on coverage.
While Democrats plan a new annual energy tax of over $3,100 on every family in their “cap and trade” environmentalist whacko scheme, Republicans are offering a marginal tax rate of 10 percent on incomes up to $100,000 and a rate of 25 percent thereafter with a generous standard deduction and personal exemption. It would allow for everyone “satisfied with their current tax structure to continue to pay those rates, while dropping the two lowest rates by 5 percent to provide every taxpayer with a tax cut. Republicans would also permanently fix the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) so that millions would no longer have to fear the possible imposition of a huge, new tax each year.”
The Republican budget will offer their “all of the above” solutions for energy independence that would not only facilitate clean energy alternatives but would streamline the process for environmentally safe Outer Continental Shelf drilling and Arctic Coastal Plain energy exploration. It would streamline the process for leasing process while mandating “ first lease by the Interior Department within a few years.” Republicans would “expedite judicial review of energy development by making the court of appeals of the District of Columbia the sole venue for review and limiting complaints finite period — reducing frivolous energy litigation.”
Republicans would also finally tackle restoring financial stability by the incremental privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while reforming laws like the “Community Investment Act” which bears the overwhelming responsibility for the financial meltdown by government intervention forcing banks to make home loans to people who could not afford them.
There is much more in the “Republican Road to Recovery” blueprint which is available online here. (pdf)
The most important part of the budget fight is likely to come in the House-Senate conference on the resolutions. Some Senate Democrats are rebelling against the White House’s enormous spending plan and may even help Republicans resist the energy tax and healthcare plans.