Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blasted House Republicans’ $61 billion in proposed budget cuts, calling it a “tea party plan” that would cost the country hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“The Republican plan we’ll vote on tomorrow is the same plan the tea party already pushed through the House,” Reid said in a floor speech. “Now it’s trying to push it through the Senate. But that plan will cost 700,000 Americans — including 6,000 Nevadans — their jobs, and I simply won’t support it.”
Reid’s 700,000 figure draws from a projection by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi last month of the job losses the GOP plan could bring about by the end of next year. Republicans have blasted Zandi’s credibility, noting that he incorrectly projected that the administration’s stimulus plan would keep unemployment below 8 percent.
The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on House Republican and Senate Democratic budget proposals, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats on Monday of having “already decided to fold up their tents.”
It was “ludicrous,” McConnell said in his own floor speech, for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to suggest on “Fox News Sunday” that Democrats’ proposal represents the maximum possible amount that could be cut responsibly.
“So far this fiscal year, Washington has spent nearly $650 billion more than it’s taken in,” McConnell said. “That’s a little more than $4 billion a day that Washington is spending over and above what it has to spend. And Senator Durbin thinks Democrats in Congress have pushed the limits of responsibility by agreeing to cut $6 billion more for the entire year?”
McConnell added that it was his hope that Durbin “was speaking for himself and not for his entire conference.”
The timing of Tuesday’s votes had yet to be decided Monday night.
Reid on Monday urged lawmakers to vote in favor of Senate Democrats’ plan, which would cut $6.5 billion from current spending levels. But he also openly acknowledged neither that plan nor the House-passed bill would likely make it through the Senate.
“We’ve all done the math and we all know how these votes will turn out: Neither proposal will pass, which means neither will reach the president’s desk as written,” Reid said. “We’ll go back to square one and back to the negotiating table. But tomorrow’s votes are still significant. ... They will show us which senators are serious about fortifying our long-term future, and which are more concerned with scoring short-term political points.”
McConnell, meanwhile, also used his floor remarks to criticize the White House for not taking the first step toward reining in expensive entitlement programs, which the Kentucky Republican called “an even larger threat” than the day-to-day expenses Congress is currently battling over.
“In this case, one can’t help but wonder if the president who came into office promising change has been changed by the office instead,” McConnell said. “I hope I’m wrong about this. But all signs point toward inaction on the part of the White House. And in my view, this would be a tragic failure of leadership.”