Vice President Joe Biden is set to meet with House and Senate leaders today to jumpstart negotiations on a resolution to fund the government through September, but not every Democratic lawmaker is happy to see the White House take a more hands-on approach.
“It depends on what kind of hands they’re putting on it,” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) told TPM. “I’m greatly disappointed so far in what they’re advocating.”
Harkin said that he objected to the White House’s emphasis on non-security discretionary spending, which is about 12% of the overall budget but has drawn the overwhelming attention of both parties in their efforts to trim the deficit. Neither Democratic or Republican leaders are proposing raising taxes to help bridge the gap. According to Harkin, discretionary spending cuts disproportionately hurt working families by targeting safety net programs and education.
“The White House is wrong on that,” Harkin said. “I want to see proposals like what Bill Clinton did in 1995. He said we’re not going to cut education, we’re not going to cut women, infant, and children programs, we’re just not going to cut those specific things. I want to see the President out there using his bully pulpit…talking about what those specific cuts are out there and then to advocate, saying ‘Look everything is on the table.’”
Harkin suggested instead that any agreement focus equally on each area of the budget.
“If we’re going to do this let’s do it fair — one-third mandatory, one-third discretionary, one-third revenue,” he said.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.