GOP and Dems agree: Tough budget decisions ahead

Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing about tackling the budget deficit: This is going to be tough.

A plan announced Wednesday would be divided 60-40 between spending cuts and tax increases, reducing the budget deficit by $5.9 trillion or an average of $650 billion a year over the next nine years, Politico reports.

The bipartisan proposal was headed by former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and former White House budget director Alice Rivlin.

Part of the Rivlin-Domenici plan is a five-freeze in defense spending, back to levels last seen during the Clinton presidency, DoD Buzz reports.

The Rivlin-Domenici plan would cut deeper than a bipartisan proposal from last week. That plan — headed by former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Republican Alan Simpson senator — would cut $4 trillion through 2020.

The Bowles-Simpson plan imposes a three-year freeze in the pay of most federal employees and a 10 percent cut in the federal work force.

A liberal proposal is being offered by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Politico reports. Schakowsky said her plan will protect the lower and middle classes better than the Bowles-Simpson plan. Her idea is to cut the deficit mainly from tax increases that will reach $380 billion in 2015. Also, the taxes for the highest-earning 2 percent will rise at the end of the year.

On the Senate side, hopes for an omnibus died this week when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “gave into conservative demands for a moratorium on spending earmarks,” Politico reports. Then on Tuesday the Senate Republican Conference adopted a resolution that endorsed a roll back to the levels agreed to by the Bush White House in December 2007.

Meanwhile, the Obama White House wants Democrats to push through a nine-month resolution to freeze accounts at current levels. This, however, could create an early fight in the new Congress.

As lawmakers face tough budget decisions, a seat on the House Appropriations Committee has lost its appeal, Politico reports. The GOP is having trouble tapping conservatives to sit on the committee.

“Anybody who’s a Republican right now, come June, is going to be accused of hating seniors, hating education, hating children, hating clean air and probably hating the military and farmers, too,” said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) in the Politico article.

Kingston, who is lobbying to become chairman of the committee, added, “So much of the work is going to be appropriations related. There’s going to be a lot of tough votes.”

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