Thune: Democrats must pass a budget

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) jumped on a bill that passed the Republican-controlled House this week that puts pressure on the Senate to pass a budget, saying that Democrats must put together a spending plan to begin dealing with the country’s debt and deficit problems.

While Thune did not directly mention the House GOP’s “No budget, no pay” message, he knocked Senate Democrats for not passing a budget.

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“It’s been almost four years since the Democrat-led Senate passed a formal budget,” Thune said in the weekly Republican address. “The last time Senate Democrats passed a budget, the iPad didn’t even exist.”

Thune also discussed another major fiscal fight that awaits Congress this year, saying that entitlement reform must be past of the upcoming budget debate.

“These programs are in trouble, and they’re on an unsustainable path,” he said. “Social Security began running a deficit in 2010, and without meaningful reform, Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024.”

Democrats argue that entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare should not be cut, and some are calling for new revenues to help bridge the deficit through tax reform.

“The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us,” President Obama said in his inaugural address Monday.

“They do not make us a nation of takers — they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

In the weekly GOP address, Thune argued that spending cuts — and not more revenues — were the solution to the deficit. After Republicans agreed to let taxes rise on incomes above $400,000 in the “fiscal-cliff” deal earlier this month, Thune said it was time to address the spending side of the ledger.

Republicans are taking one element of the equation off the table, as House Republicans passed an extension of the debt limit until mid-May. That leaves the across-the-board sequestration cuts that are set to take effect March 1, and the expiration of the continuing resolution March 27 as the next fiscal deadlines for Congress.

“Now that the tax part of the fiscal cliff issue has been dealt with, it’s time to address the real cause of Washington’s fiscal mess— out-of-control spending,” Thune said. “No tax increase, no matter how high, will be enough to save us.”

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