Members of Congress plan to begin discussions this week about how to fund the federal government beyond the January 2014 date when the current funding plan will run out. Ahead of those talks, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already made his budget plan clear: no cuts to entitlement programs and more taxes to pay for them.
“You keep talking about Medicare and Social Security,” Reid said on Thursday on Nevada Public Radio. “Get something else in your brain. Stop talking about that. There is not going to be a grand bargain.”
The “grand bargain” Reid was referring to was the prospect of striking a budget deal without increasing taxes.
While Reid will not be part of the formal budget discussions slated to being on Wednesday, it has not stopped him from expressing his belief that there is no room to decrease government spending. And therefore, the only option is to increase revenue through tax increases.
“And until [the Republicans] get off that kick, there’s not going to be a grand bargain,” Reid continued. “There’s not going to be a small bargain. The only people who feel there shouldn’t be more [taxes] coming in to the federal government from the rich people are the Republicans in the Congress. Everybody else, including the rich people, is willing to pay more. They want to pay more.”
While I am not rich, I can say that I am not on board with paying more. Nor am I fond of the audacity of Reid and many other members of Congress who are in the habit of simply spewing all-encompassing words like “everybody” apparently in hopes that enough people will assume that is what people want that they will not speak up to stop further spending increases.
Republicans are not likely to move off their position without compromises from the Democratic party as well.
“If we focus on some big, grand bargain then we’re going to focus on our differences, and both sides are going to require that the other side compromises some core principle and then we’ll get nothing done,” said Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who is Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Ryan along with Patty Murray, D-Washington, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, are the two primary congressmen who will be leading the talks. Ryan and Murray have made it clear they are seeking common ground despite the strong words from Reid, in order to avoid another government shutdown like the two-week period in early October.
The target in January is to fund the government for another nine months at a minimum through September 2014. Ryan and Murray also plan to address the government sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect in January.
“I think we all agree that there’s a smarter way to cut spending [than sequestration]” Ryan said. “If I can reform entitlement programs where the savings compound annually, that is more valuable for reducing the debt that a one-time spending cut in discretionary spending.”
An option that Murray embraces is to lower spending limits in future years, which would eliminate billions of dollars in spending.
Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.