McCain Offering Budget Alternative — But Don’t Call It Leadership’s Proposal

Apr 1, 2009 5:11pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The will-they-or-won’t-they saga over a Senate GOP budget alternative is producing a concrete proposal after all. Sort of. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has been working with several of his colleagues to formulate a full-on alternative to the Democratic budget — and has it ready to introduce on the Senate floor this afternoon, according to Senate aides. The move is being made despite Senate leaders’ stated desire that there not be a complete Senate Republican budget alternative; instead, they support making line-by-line changes to the Democrats’ proposal. The McCain budget, which comes on the same day GOP House leaders introduced their own version of the budget, would spend $229 billion less than President Obama’s budget over five years, primarily by freezing all discretionary spending with the exception of defense and veterans’ services. It would reduce deficits by an estimated $977 billion more than Obama’s proposal over five years, and would contribute some $2 trillion less to the national debt, according to a fact sheet describing the proposal provided to ABC News. McCain’s budget would also make permanent the Bush tax cuts, provide a permanent fix to the alternative minimum tax, and set up a special commission on entitlements that would seek to “reduce mandatory spending by at least 4 percent over the next five years, and 7 percent over the next decade,” according to the fact sheet. McCain has been working with a small circle of allies on the proposal, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. Noticeably absent from that list are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the Senate Budget Committee’s top Republican, Judd Gregg, R-N.H. McConnell and Gregg have opposed the idea of offering a complete Republican alternative budget. Instead — as Democrats generally did regarding the budget process when Republicans last controlled the Senate — they are offering individual amendments on the Senate floor this week. “We have offered alternatives all along the way and we will offer numerous alternatives on the budget when it comes up,” McConnell told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last month. The political end of the leadership argument often is this: Budget votes put all senators in tough spots, and they’d rather keep the scrutiny on the Democrats’ budget instead of forcing moderate GOP members into politically perilous votes on a GOP alternative. Still, McCain and his allies feel it’s important for members of the Senate Republican caucus to enunciate their ideals in budgetary form. Democrats have mocked Republicans in recent weeks for just saying “no” to Obama’s ideas without offering a complete budget of their own. If this dance isn’t complicated enough, GOP aides expect most Republican members — including, most likely, McConnell and Gregg — to vote for McCain’s alternative budget Just don’t call it a “leadership proposal.”

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus