By Abhinav Parameshwar, Contributing Writer
The Senate this week conducted votes for proposals for a FY2012 budget, and Senator Pat Toomey’s legislation was met with support from fellow Republican Senators. Toomey, whose proposal PoliticsPA reviewed in March, was defeated in the Senate despite receiving more support than any other budget plan.
Toomey’s plan, which proposed to balance the budget by 2020 and reduce the country’s whopping $14 trillion debt, received 42 votes and all but three of the Republican votes. The proposal failed, however, to win a single Democrat over and fell 42 to 55. The plan reduces publicly held debt to almost 55.6% of the GDP by 2021 and lowers spending to 18.4% of the GDP.
“I am grateful to have the support of my Senate Republican colleagues for my budget proposal,” Sen. Toomey said following the vote. “Their support for balancing the budget and solving our debt crisis now is heartening, and I will continue fighting for fiscal responsibility here in Washington. I hope that all of my Senate colleagues will embrace the need to balance the budget and establish pro-growth policies that put our country’s economy back on track.”
The Senator’s plan crucially, and most interestingly of all, avoids the politically dangerous changes to Medicare that the House Republican budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan suggests. Toomey has been a long time supporter of entitlement reform, which encourages making cuts to the Medicare program. In this regard, the plan reduces Medicaid spending to $14 billion by 2019. Toomey tackles Medicaid by converting it into a block grant program for the states and limits payments to them, saving $1.1 trillion. He did, however, publicly support Ryan’s plan to turn the seniors’ health insurance program into a voucher-like system by 2020 but also stressed the importance of fulfilling immediate goals.
“I’m introducing an alternative budget because I want to focus the nearer term,” he said in a floor speech. “My focus is just these next 10 years, because I think we’ve got a crisis staring us right in the face and we’ve got to deal with it now.”
Democratic Senators did not approve of a single budget that was proposed in yesterday’s session and voted against Toomey’s plan unanimously. As a result, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has drafted a letter that scathingly criticizes the Democrat-led Senate for failing to at least propose a Democratic budget. The NRSC has urged the Senate to delay the planned week long adjournment until a budget resolution is brought forward.