Budget Negotiations in Public
Washington Free Beacon
Republicans understand their political leverage is significantly diminished following their electoral drubbing earlier this month, but some fear the secretive, high-level nature of tax and spending negotiations underway risks undermining the GOP position even further.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, last week issued a strong rebuke to the “closed-door meetings” and “secrecy” that have characterized recent efforts to produce a bipartisan agreement.
“Secrecy cements the status quo: more spending, more debt, more runaway government. It is the enemy of accountability, change, and reform,” Sessions said in a statement. “We cannot simply rush through some secret deal that no one can amend, alter, review, scrutinize, or dispute.”
He called on party leaders to guarantee that any agreement on the fiscal cliff be placed on the Senate floor for a full week of open debate with amendments before a final vote...
One concern about the prevalence of closed-door talks and last-minute deals is that they validate the Democrat Party’s strategic refusal over the past several years even to propose a viable budget document.
More than 1,300 days have passed since Senate Democrats formally approved a budget resolution as required by law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has maintained it would be “foolish” for them to do so.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the incoming Senate Budget Committee chair, appeared poised to continue that dubious tradition. Murray declined last week to commit to passing a budget this year and suggested an agreement on the fiscal cliff could preclude the need to do so.
Senate Democrats have argued previously that last year’s bipartisan debt ceiling agreement, which installed caps on federal spending over the next decade, absolved them of the need to propose and pass a budget.
GOP critics have long contended that Senate Democrats have declined to endorse a budget resolution because they do not have a viable plan to address the country’s long-term debt problem. The plan offered by President Obama did not receive a single yes vote.
Republicans say Democrats have calculated that any serious budget they put forward would prove politically disastrous given the magnitude of the tax increases necessary to close the deficit absent meaningful spending cuts, which Democrats have opposed at every turn.
Simply raising tax rates on “the rich,” the Democrats’ favored plan, would not come close to solving the debt problem.
The federal government could tax high incomes at a 100 percent rate and still not raise enough revenue to cover the amount of the debt racked up in the past year.
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