For the second year in row, a budget proposal drafted by Sen. Pat Toomey, was shut down by the Senate. The proposal, which was designed to balance the federal budget within the next eight years through a combination of tax reforms and spending cuts, was voted down along party lines, 42 for 57 against.
All 5 budget proposals voted on in the Senate Wednesday were rejected.
Toomey expressed his appreciation for the votes he received from fellow republicans saying, “I am grateful to have the support of my Senate Republican colleagues for my budget proposal. Their support for balancing the budget in eight years and solving our debt crisis now is heartening, and I will continue fighting for fiscal responsibility here in Washington.”
He also responded to the unanimous rejection of his proposal by the Democrats. “At the same time, I am disappointed that my colleagues on the other side refuse even to debate our fiscal crisis, let alone introduce a fiscal blueprint for solving our country’s problems. Instead of lobbing political attacks at the ideas I and my Republican colleagues have put forward, it is incumbent upon the majority party to put forward ideas of its own. Anything less is a flagrant abdication of its governing responsibility.”
Democrats were joined in their opposition by four Republicans: Sens. Scott Brown and Dean Heller who are both facing tough campaigns, and Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine.
Toomey’s budget proposal for FY2013 mirrored his proposal for FY2012, and consequently it received the exact same number of votes (read about FY2012 proposal here). An important area where it differed, however, was its approach to entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid. This year’s budget proposal called for “means testing” as a way to cut down on Medicare spending. Means testing would have required senior citizens who make more than $85,000 annually to pay higher premiums for their healthcare, and those who make more than $150,000 to pay their premiums without the help of taxpayer money. In addition, Toomey’s proposal would have allowed for seniors, beginning in 2023, to choose between Medicare and private plans.
Last year Toomey shied away from budget cuts to Medicare, a move which elicited some criticism from the right but which wasn’t enough to secure even a single democratic vote when the proposal reached the Senate floor.
Additional provisions in the FY2013 proposal would have shifted Medicaid to a state block grant program and frozen spending for five years. The proposal also called for a repeal of the Democrat’s health care law. These two provisions alone would have saved the nation an estimated $2.7 trillion.
One of the most drastic parts of Toomey’s plan, which was also part of his proposed plan for last year, was the call for non-defense discretionary spending to revert to 2006 levels and then be frozen for the next seven years. The proposal would have also cut funding for welfare and assumed a complete withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan by 2015.
In combination with aggressive spending cuts, the second part of Toomey’s plan involved the reformation of taxes. His proposal called for the cutting of individual income tax rates by one-fifth, effectively dropping the top rate from 35 percent to 28 percent. Opponents to the reform argued that this would shift an unproportional part of the financial burden from millionaires and billionaires to low- and middle-class America.
Toomey’s budget proposal may be a good indicator of what conservative voters and tea partiers want from a republican presidential candidate, as Toomey was elected to the Senate with support from the Tea Party Movement and now holds the important position of Chair of the Senate Steering Committee.
The Senate voted down a total of five proposals on Wednesday, three of which were drafted by GOP senators including Toomey, Mike Lee (Utah), and Rand Paul (Ky.). One of the other two proposals was the House GOP budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan—a proposal similar to the one composed by Toomey though less aggressive. The Senate also voted on a version of President Obama’s FY2013 budget.
Republicans crowed over the Senate’s unanimous disapproval – 99 to 0 – of President Obama’s budget. It was the second year in a row for that, too.
“The president’s budget had zero credibility, and now it has zero votes. After racking up more than $5 trillion in debt, even Senate Democrats don’t take President Obama’s budget proposal seriously anymore,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.