Republicans spent Wednesday bringing forward five budget plans to vote that they knew would fail in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Democrats contend that last year’s agreement to raise the debt limit should suffice as a budget. They also insist that any new agreement include some tax increases in conjunction with more limited cuts to social programs. The Republicans are rejecting any tax increases, and requesting tax cuts in some instances, along with more significant cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare.
Media largely panned the day-long exercise as a Republican attempt to “embarrass Democrats,” including Bloomberg News and the AP. They were able to bring forward such a vote due to a Senate rule that allows a vote on any budget if no fiscal blueprint has been produced by April 1.
In addition to four Republican budgets, including the Paul Ryan plan, the Senate Republicans also put President Obama’s budget to a vote and it lost 99-0. While such a round rejection of the president’s budget might appear to look bad, The New York Times explains why the 99-0 vote isn’t as significant as it would seem:
There is less significance to that tally than it would appear. Not every Democrat opposes the president’s tax-and-spending plan, but a presidential budget is a different beast than a Congressional plan.
The White House’s budget funds cabinet departments, agencies and divisions line by line, program by program, in a document several feet high. A Congressional budget is a nonbinding blueprint on spending and tax policy, setting out broad parameters that are filled in later by committees that have jurisdiction in specific areas. For lawmakers to approve a presidential budget as it is presented would be to forgo Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.
But Republicans hailed the vote as a major rebuke to Mr. Obama.
Wednesday’s vote comes on the heels of recent posturing by Speaker of the House John Boehner, as well as the president, both of whom have said they won’t tolerate the other side’s position on deficit reduction.
Watch Chuck Todd and Luke Russert explain in The Daily Rundown clip below what’s really going on with Congress and the budget.