Senate Dems spend short work period rebuking Ryan budget

Nearly 40 percent of speeches by Senate Democrats this week were critical of vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Not counting the speeches remembering the victims of Sept. 11, 2001, 15 of 38 speeches by Democratic senators mentioned the Ryan budget.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) gave the most speeches on the budget plan from Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman. He spoke every day on the floor, and said Romney and Ryan are keeping their real plans away from voters.

“I’m speaking to let people know what Romney and Ryan are trying to hide from them, that’s their blueprint for America,” Harkin said on the floor Thursday. “Show me your budget and I’ll show you what your priorities are.”

Republicans defended their vice presidential nominee, and said Democrats would rather criticize Ryan’s budget than work to prevent the coming "fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending cuts that could cause a recession.

“The nation is at risk of an entirely avoidable economic calamity because the president of the United States and the Democrats who control the Senate would rather spend their time picking apart Paul Ryan and his budget plan,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor Thursday. “It’s really a disgrace.”

Harkin said he’d continue his assault on Ryan’s budget until the Senate adjourns for the election, which is likely to happen at the end of next week. During his speeches, he argued the Ryan budget would slash funding for healthcare, Medicare, Medicaid, education, agriculture and energy, and use the money to give tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans rather than paying down the deficit.

“The Ryan budget is radical in shrinking the size of government to what it was more than a century ago,” Harkin said. “This is turning America back to where this country was before Roosevelt — not Franklin, I mean Theodore — that’s how far back this budget would take us.”

Harkin wasn’t the only Democrat speaking against Ryan and Romney. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) poked fun at Ryan’s math several times this week, and Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) Kent Conrad (N.D.) and John Rockefeller (W.Va.) were among those who also criticized the GOP budget plan.

“I rise today to talk about the so-called Ryan plan — endorsed by former Gov. Romney — which, when you read it, is nothing more than a diabolical blueprint for slashing services that help families, seniors and children all across this country,” Rockefeller said Thursday. “The Republican budget is a slap in the face to millions of Americans.”

More in Senate

Rubio's push for higher defense spending falls short

Read more »