Sen. Lee: GOP Can Save the Day on Budget

Thursday, 17 May 2012 02:33 PM

By Henry J. Reske and John Bachman

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Odds are increasing that Senate Republicans will unite behind a single budget proposal and break the string of three consecutive years the Democratically controlled chamber has failed to agree on a deal, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tells Newsmax.TV.

Lee’s comments come as the Senate gave a thumbs down to President Barack Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget and four different Republican alternatives.

He added that at “some point there is a very good chance” that a single GOP budget will emerge.

The four Republican budgets were authored by Lee, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

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“We got 17 votes for it, and we’re pleased with that,” Lee said of his own proposal. “We understand that this may take some time. Rome wasn’t built in a day but, you know, I’m in this for the long haul and we’re going to win this fight.”

Toomey's budget received 42 votes in the Senate. Ryan's received 41, and Paul’s got 16, Lee noted.

"We’ve got a lot of growing consensus, growing support for this idea that we need a budget, but we need colleagues across the aisle to be willing to reach across the aisle with us and join with us in an effort to actually draft a budget. So far we don’t have a single budget from any Democrat in the Senate.”

Ranking GOP Budget Committee member Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama charged that the “the majority party running the Senate effectively declared that as long as they’re in charge this country will not have a budget.”

“Their message is simple: Send Washington more money. Don’t ask us what we’ll do with it.” Sessions said in a statement. “They’re determined to avoid public accountability as our nation spends its way to financial disaster.

“The decision by all Democrats to vote against all budgets, to stop the full budget debate the Senate is required by law to have, reflects their support for Majority Leader [Harry] Reid’s view that to have a budget is ‘foolish.’ It is a vote of their entire caucus to keep this nation on our unsustainable debt course.”

Lee noted that under his budget the country would move to one tax rate, have two tax credits and three deductions, and would transform the current system to a “simple tax rate system that enhances the transparency of our tax code and gets rid of our 70,000-page monstrosity that is our current tax system.”

The senator, whose own proposal runs to just 71 pages, said he is well aware that opponents will try to demonize the plan and he is ready to combat such tactics.

“I plan to get the information out there,” he said. “When we get the facts on the table, people will realize that everyone benefits from this. People will realize that low-income people benefit from this tremendously because it gets rid of the 15.3 percent payroll tax.

"In addition to that, it accurately communicates to the electorate, to the public at large, the true cost of government. Our current system is so opaque, it’s so complex that it does a very poor job of telling the public what government costs.”

Lee also shot down reports that Senate Republicans are merely engaged in political gamesmanship with the current budget debate and are only interested in embarrassing Democrats.

“That’s absolute nonsense,” Lee said. “We’re doing this because our current course of action is unsustainable. We’re going to destroy our nation’s social safety net. We’re going to devastate our ability to fund everything from defense to entitlements, unless we act and act quickly.

"For anyone to suggest that this about anything other than addressing that need is simply frivolous and irresponsible.”

With the debt ceiling returning to the forefront and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, Lee believes his plan and others put forth by the GOP could “serve as an important component to the blueprint that could enable us to address the debt limit issue.”

“I’m the author of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which I introduced last year, and the House version of which passed a couple of weeks after I introduced it in the Senate,” he said. “What it says is that we should not raise the debt limit unless or until we’ve passed a balanced budget amendment out of both houses of Congress.

"We’ve adopted statutory spending caps and adopted some immediate short-term cuts. That kind of plan still needs to be in the works next time we address the debt limit issue. This budget will play an important component in that.”


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