Senate Democrats’ budget includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes

The first budget from Senate Democrats in four years includes nearly $1 trillion in new taxes but would not balance the budget.

The blueprint unveiled by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on Tuesday to her Democratic colleagues would also turn off the next nine years of the sequester and replace those spending cuts with a 50-50 mix of tax increases and spending cuts.

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The budget would dedicate $100 billion to economic stimulus in the form of infrastructure spending and job training.

Murray argues that her budget cuts $1.85 trillion from deficits over 10 years. But once the sequester cuts are turned off, Murray’s budget appears to reduce deficits by about $800 billion, using the Congressional Budget Office’s baseline. The Murray budget does not contain net spending cuts with the sequester turned off.

The details of Murray’s budget came hours after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his budget, which reduces tax rates and slashes spending much more deeply that Murray’s budget.

The Ryan budget would balance in 10 years without raising taxes and by reducing spending over the next decade by $5.7 trillion compared to the CBO baseline.


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While Ryan’s budget would reduce the highest tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, providing a significant tax cut to the wealthiest households, Murray’s budget would raise $975 billion in tax revenue by closing corporate and individual tax loopholes.

More details on the tax plan were expected Wednesday when the committee begins its formal markup of the budget.

Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said based on the reported details, Murray’s budget increases taxes to pay for more federal spending.

“If the Senate Majority’s budget actually contains these accounting tricks, it would increase spending above already massive projections for spending growth. In other words, Senate Democrats would be proposing a tax hike to fuel even more wasteful government spending,” Sessions said.

“Can it really be this is all they have developed after four years of not producing a plan?  If that it is so, no wonder why they won’t make their proposal public until after the committee meets.”

Murray’s budget also will contain reconciliation instructions on tax reform, a move that could allow the budget, which cannot be filibustered in the Senate, to become the legislative vehicle for a tax reform bill. This would also allow a tax bill to move through the Senate under a majority vote, since reconciliation bills cannot be filibustered.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has opposed including the instructions in the budget, arguing it would tie his hands in tax reform.

The $975 billion in spending cuts include $240 billion in savings from the end of the Afghanistan war and $242 billion in reduced interest payments, according to a source.

Republicans have criticized Democrats in the past for counting these as spending cuts, and Ryan made a point in his budget of producing a different baseline that did not count CBO’s projected savings from war and disaster spending.

The Murray budget will include $493 billion in other spending cuts, including $275 billion in health savings that do not cut entitlement benefits, a source said.

Ryan’s budget, in contrast, includes a Medicare reform proposal that would give future beneficiaries the option of getting subsidies to buy private insurance, which would cut the program’s costs.

Murray is presenting her budget as addressing weak economic growth first and foremost, and as protecting Medicare in contrast to the House GOP plan, which she calls a voucher system.

Murray argues that when $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction from the last Congress are counted, her budget presents the kind of $4 trillion balanced deficit reduction plan called for by Obama fiscal commission chairmen Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

— This story was updated at 3:22 p.m.