Minutes before 5am, early Saturday morning, members of the Senate did something they haven’t done in four years – they passed a budget. The $3.7 trillion dollar outline for 2014 passed with a 50 to 49 vote, and it includes $100 billion in stimulus spending and raises $975 billion in new revenues over the next decade. Now the challenge will be to reconcile the Democratic Senate budget with Paul Ryan’s austerity plan in the House.
The negotiations may be hostile, and it’s possible the plans are simply too far apart to present the opportunity for common ground. According to Senate Budget Committee chairwoman Patty Murray, “the first priority of the Senate Budget is creating jobs and economic growth for the middle out, not the top down.” But Republicans are set on balancing the budget, even if it requires imposing their extreme austerity measures on our nation which kill jobs and shrink the economy.
Senator Mitch McConnell denounced the Democratic plan, saying, “The only good news is that the fiscal path the Democrats laid out in their budget won’t become law.” With Democrats unlikely to concede to Paul Ryan’s plan, which would voucherize Medicare and repeal Obamacare, and Republicans unlikely to budge on tax increases, we shouldn’t expect much movement in the budget negotiations. Hopefully, the Democrats won’t cave in to GOP demands for more spending cuts, and our economy won’t be devastated with even more Republican austerity.