Senate Dems prep rival budget plan

Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
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The House Republican budget plan is generating plenty of attention today, and for good reason, but it’s worth noting that when it comes to competing alternatives, it’s not the only game in town.

Senate Democrats, for the first time in years, will present a budget plan of their own tomorrow, and while we wait for the details, Greg Sargent has an advance look – including the welcome news that Dems will propose $100 billion in stimulus.

According to a source familiar with the proposal, Democrats will offer a plan tomorrow that does not simply cut the deficit amid mass unemployment. It takes steps to mitigate the damage the cuts are expected to do to the economy by spending to boost job creation and job training.

According to the source, the plan – which is being presented by Senate Budget Committee Chairperson Patty Murray to the Dem caucus today – replaces the whole sequester and includes a total of $1.85 trillion in deficit reduction, derived from a 50-50 split of cuts and revenues derived from closing tax loopholes.

We’ll get a better sense of the details tomorrow, but these preliminary reports suggest Senate Democrats are preparing, if you’ll excuse the word, a serious budget plan. It doesn’t pay for massive tax breaks with undefined “reforms”; it doesn’t strive for fiscal balance exclusively through revenue or spending cuts alone; and it doesn’t push for an economically risky balanced budget for no particular reason.

Indeed, as Matt Yglesias noted, it doesn’t buy into the House Republican we-must-balance-the-budget-in-10-years-or-else argument at all, preferring instead to aim for fiscal sustainability – approve $1.85 trillion in additional debt reduction, on top of the debt reduction that’s already been approved.

That won’t satisfy the most ardent deficit hawks – though satisfying them probably shouldn’t be anyone’s top priority – but it would pursue debt reduction goals outlined by the Simpson-Bowles report that the Beltway seems so fond of.

The Senate Democratic plan would also reduce entitlement spending through Medicare savings that don’t affect benefits, while cutting $240 billion from the Pentagon budget and $200 billion from non-defense spending.

This, in other words, is the sort of moderate, mainstream approach that one might expect from a responsible governing party. It accepts compromises, requires concessions from both parties, focuses on pressing needs (scrapping sequestration cuts and boosting infrastructure), and strives for balanced policymaking.

The contrasts with the reckless House GOP plan speak volumes about how the parties approach their duties.