Dems say Democratic budget isn't balanced

Two Senate Democrats defended their votes against the upper chamber’s budget resolution on Saturday, saying that it was not a balanced approach.

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Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) were among only four Democrats to cast votes against the budget measure, which narrowly passed the Senate early Saturday morning, 50-49.

“This budget fails to strike the right balance between cutting our spending and setting up a path for future job creation and economic growth,” Pryor said in a statement.

“Instead of one-party solutions, we should work together to find a balanced approach that will benefit our economy, seniors, and middle class families.”

An aide to Baucus said that the Senate Finance Committee chairman opposed both the Democratic-led Senate bill — because it raised taxes too much — and the Republican-led House budget approved earlier in the week — because it made too many cuts to entitlement spending.

A more balanced approach was necessary, Baucus’s office said.

“He was disappointed there was no middle ground,” said the aide. “The fact is neither the House plan nor the Senate plan offered a sensible compromise.”

“And that is what his bosses — the people of Montana — tell him they want to see, a balanced plan that'll bring us together, gets our economy running at full speed and creates jobs for folks in Montana and across America.”

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) also voted against the budget, saying that it didn’t do enough to reduce the country's deficit.

"While I am happy that Congress is finally talking seriously about our fiscal crisis, this budget didn’t go far enough,” said Begich in a statement.

“Alaskans expect us to finish the job and make this staggering deficit manageable. Passing this problem off to our children is not an option. We got ourselves into this mess and have a responsibility to get ourselves out.

“We can either make the tough choices now or face an even tougher road ahead.”

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) was the fourth Democrat to vote against the bill. Her office did not respond to a request for comment.

All the Democratic senators who voted "no" face tough 2014 reelection campaigns in states that voted for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

Their “no” votes on the overall budget measure do not guarantee them a political safe house, however, as they could be hurt in next year's campaign season by numerous controversial budget amendments and motions, such as their opposition to one calling for a balanced budget by 2023.

Also vulnerable are Senate Democrats Mary Landrieu (La.) and Tim Johnson (S.D.), who could pay a price in the 2014 elections for supporting the budget.

Johnson is not expected to run for reelection.

Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), who is also up for reelection in 2014, also voted "yes." The GOP, however, is not expected to go after Warner like they will Landrieu and Johnson's seats.

One public relations silver lining for Democrats is that Saturday's early morning vote marks the first time the Senate has produced a budget resolution since 2009, a point Republicans have criticized relentlessly. The successful Democratic vote strips the GOP of that talking point.

Had the budget failed, however, it would have been a significant setback for Democrats and raised questions about the party’s ability to govern.

The approved Senate budget relies heavily on $975 billion in new tax revenue to stabilize the growth of the national debt within the next ten years. The budget does not balance, however, and has a deficit of $566 billion in 2023.

Included within the budget measure are $275 billion in new cuts to Medicare and Medicaid spending. But it also turns off $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts scheduled over nine years. Factoring that in, the budget does not constitute a net spending cut.

--Erik Wasson contributed.

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