Liberal group: Senators' spending proposal 'draconian'

A report from the group noted several changes that require more federal spending, including healthcare costs for an aging U.S. population and commitments homeland security, veterans aid and prescription drug benefits.

The senators’ proposal might be appropriate if those factors did not exist, "But that’s not the world in which we live and it’s not the target at which we should aim," the report said.

The plan from Corker and McCaskill would reduce spending from its current level of 24.7 percent of gross domestic product. (The target of 20.6 percent is essentially the average for federal spending over the last four decades.) The proposal also would require the Office of Management and Budget to make budget cuts if Congress did not hit its spending goal.

“We've come together around something that is reasonable. It's something that over the course of a 10-year period would cause us to spend $7.8 trillion less,” Corker said at a Tuesday news conference, adding the bill would put “a straitjacket on Congress." 

In a conference call, officials from the CBPP stressed that the senators’ proposal did not consider revenue collection and that other recent deficit reduction plans had put spending above the 20.6 percent figure. 

The proposal from a Bipartisan Policy Center commission — chaired by Alice Rivlin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, and former Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), a onetime Budget Committee chairman — would have led to spending at roughly 23 percent of GDP in 2020, according to the center’s report. 

And, the report added, a plan released last year illustrated that a low-spending, low-taxes approach could, with 20 percent cuts in defense and domestic spending, put spending at about 21 percent of GDP.

On the conference call, Robert Greenstein, the center’s executive director, also took something of a shot at McCaskill, saying the bill might be a case of a lawmaker not understanding the ramifications of what they’re introducing.

Speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday, McCaskill had ripped a plan from conservative lawmakers to reduce spending by $2.5 trillion as “ridiculous.” But according to Greenstein, her legislation with Corker “would over time require deeper, more draconian cuts than what she dismissed.”

A McCaskill spokeswoman responded to that notion by saying that the senator "recognizes that this bill would require Congress to make some tough choices, but she believes this is a long-term solution to our deficit."