Apr 17 2012
“Tomorrow I will begin a Budget Committee markup of a long-term budget for the nation. As my Chairman’s Mark, I will lay down the bipartisan Fiscal Commission plan, also known as the Bowles-Simpson plan. It is a plan which I believe represents the best blueprint from which to build a bipartisan deficit reduction agreement that can ultimately be adopted.
“What I am proposing is not partisan. I am trying to break from the ‘business as usual’ practice that has gone on for too long. I am hoping that my Senate colleagues will stand with me to do what is right for the country. That’s really the only way we can get something done. That might not happen this week, but it will have to happen.
“To be clear, we already have a budget in place for this year and next. The Budget Control Act passed last summer provided the spending limits and enforcement measures for the budget for 2012 and 2013. It is the law of the land. What we do not have is agreement on a long-term budget plan. That is what we must now work to achieve.
“I had considered presenting a budget that reflected the general consensus among the Democratic Members of the Committee. However, after considerable consultations with my colleagues, I have determined that would not be the most effective approach. The fact is that many plans have already been offered that lean right or lean left. Adding another to the stack would do little to move us closer to a bipartisan agreement that can actually be adopted.
“The Fiscal Commission Budget Plan provides a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction framework that we can build upon. It is not perfect, but it does represent a middleground, consensus solution to the country’s fiscal imbalance. It brings the deficit down, but does so in a responsible, fair, and balanced way. It protects the most vulnerable. It phases in changes to avoid harming the economy. And it includes savings from across the budget, including from entitlement reform and tax reform that raises revenue while lowering rates.
“I know that taking this route will disappoint some on both sides of the aisle, including some Democrats who would like another plan to rally around, and some Republicans who want another plan to attack. But I am not interested in furthering the political divide. I am focused on getting a positive result for the American people. And I believe the best way to do that is to start in the middle, with a plan that already has strong bipartisan support, both in Congress and across the nation.
“So tomorrow I will lay out the Fiscal Commission Budget Plan in the Budget Committee. I recognize adjustments will have to be made to this plan before it can be adopted. As I have said, it is not perfect, and it needs to be further updated to account for changes that have occurred since it was drafted in 2010. Those adjustments will have to be negotiated on a bipartisan basis, and those negotiations will take time. I intend to give Members of the Committee an extended period to evaluate my Chairman’s Mark. The initial phase of the markup will end on Wednesday. We will have statements, but we will not complete our work tomorrow.
“There is nothing I would want more than to reach agreement on a long-term plan right now. And it could be that outside events, such as a crisis overseas, will drive us to come together sooner. I would certainly be open to reaching conclusion sooner, if that were possible. But I recognize the chances of that are slim.
“Many have suggested we will not be able to reach conclusion on a long-term plan until after the election. It may be that Democrats and Republicans will only be able to come together when the election is behind us and the fiscal train wreck of the pending sequester and expiring tax cuts is staring us in the face later this year. That may be the only time members on both sides of the aisle will be willing to move off their fixed positions.
“Again, it is important to remember that we already have a budget for this year and next. The Budget Control Act provided us with spending limits and enforcement measures for 2012 and 2013. It is the law of the land. What we need is a bipartisan long-term plan that can actually pass Congress. I am focused on doing everything I can to maximize the chances of reaching agreement on such a plan. That is what we should all be focused on in the days and months ahead.”
Contact: Stu Nagurka (202) 224-7436
Steve Posner (202) 224-7925
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