Conrad presents budget plan on Senate floor
In outlining it, he focused his argument on the need to raise taxes, a step most Republicans vehemently oppose.
“This is not exclusively a spending problem,” said Conrad. “For those who say it’s not a revenue problem, well, yes it is.”
Conrad went on to assail the Republicans’ plan, crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), for putting forward greater tax cuts while the nation teeters on the brink of insolvency.
“The House Republican plan on revenue is really almost impossible to believe,” he said. “In a circumstance where we have record debt … what is part of the answer? Cut taxes some more and cut them for the very wealthiest among us?”
Conrad argued that over a decade, his proposal would reduce the deficit by greater numbers than the Republicans’ plan by about $50 billion.
But Conrad acknowledged that raising revenue would only be part of the solution in overcoming the deficit, and he named several cuts and freezes his plan includes.
For example, Conrad said his budget would freeze the pay of congressmen and members of the administration for three years and pay for civil servants for two years.
He would reduce the federal vehicle fleet by 20 percent, federal travel costs by 20 percent and enact major changes in tax law that would raise revenue by “promoting tax fairness” and doing away with what he called loopholes in the code. In particular, Conrad said the military would face cuts of more than $800 billion over 10 years.
“No part of the budget can be off the table into terms of a deficit reduction plans,” Conrad said of the defense cuts, which are sure to be controversial.
Conrad did, however, name several areas where cuts would be limited, including education, Social Security, infrastructure and benefits for veterans.
Before concluding his presentation, Conrad noted that his bill would take a backseat to furious negotiations currently taking place between congressional leadership and the White House in order to avert a default on federal liabilities by the Treasury’s Aug. 2 deadline.
“We understand this is not going to be dealt with in normal course of business,” he said. “But we believe there are some ideas in this package that deserve consideration.”
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