Senate Democrats today unleashed a torrent of criticism against the GOP’s Cut, Cap, and Balance Act which passed the House late last night via a heavily partisan vote, re-branding it as a political scheme that would “kill medicare” and one that would never pass in the Senate.
“Let me make this as simple as I can: the Republican scheme to cap, cut, and kill medicare is dead on arrival in the senate,” declared Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at a press conference in Washington. “[It] would wreak havoc on our country’s seniors, the middle class, military preparedness, and our country’s standing in the world - their plan to cut, cap, and kill medicare is the Ryan plan on steroids.”
The legislation, detailed further here, would slash federal programs, institute a spending cap to keep spending below 18% of the GDP - a level not seen since the 1965 - and require a future vote on a Constitutional amendment that would force Congress to maintain a balanced budget while basically prohibiting any new tax increases.
While the White House referred to the plan as “Duck, Dodge, and Dismantle” earlier this week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) further piled on to the Democratic re-branding effort.
“What a sham! What a scam! I’d be tempted to just to throw it off it were not so cruel, stupid, and dangerous,” exclaimed Mikulski.
Theatrics aside, now that the House Republicans have flaunted their cost-cutting muscles in public, they may be willing to take on the issue of the looming debt ceiling default. Before that can happen, though, the ball bounces back to the Senate where the Gang of Six has renewed its efforts to bring a bipartisan plan to the floor.
While the president has indicated his general support, both Republican and Democratic leaders in the senate have tempered their members’ enthusiasm for the new plan - which aims to cut the deficit by $3.7 - $4 trillion dollars over 10 years - primarily because of a lack of time to write and score the legislation before the debt ceiling needs to be raised.
Sen. Schumer sounded an optimistic note that Republicans who support the plan despite the fact that it raises new revenues by closing tax loopholes and lowering rates is “certainly something of a breakthrough, they haven’t done that before.”
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is expected to discuss the framework later Wednesday with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), a member of the gang.
Top Senate democrats are also expected to huddle with the president at the White House where they will no doubt game out the Gang of Six budgetary plan, a vote on the Cut, Cap, and Balance in the Senate, and oh yeah - the general issue of a looming debt ceiling deadline.
Igor Bobic is the assistant editor of Talking Points Memo, helping oversee the site's coverage of politics and policy in Washington. While originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Igor feels best at home on the beaches of Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com.