We Waited Four Years for This?

Red state Democrats nervous about Senate budget proposal, sources say

Patty Murray / AP
March 13, 2013

The author of Senate Democrats’ budget proposal has refused to release specifics on her legislation prior to a Budget Committee markup on Wednesday, a move Republicans say reveals the proposal’s unpopularity even among Democrats.

Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) is slated to release her party’s budget resolution at a committee meeting Wednesday afternoon.

However, committee Republicans have yet to see any details on how the proposal will reduce the federal budget deficit by $1.85 trillion, Murray’s stated benchmark.

Murray has instead circulated "talking points" that generally outline the proposal, but include few specifics.

A Republican aide on the Senate Budget Committee said Murray’s coyness "shows a terrible lack of confidence in their agenda and exposes a lack of commitment to the transparency our president promised when campaigning in 2008."

Murray’s budget is expected to expose deep divides among Senate Democrats, who have not passed a budget in over three years.

Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, recently said he would not advise vulnerable Senate Democrats to vote for Murray’s budget, signaling that support for the measure could be a liability for red state Democrats.

A spokesman for Sen. Max Baucus (D., Mont.), who is up for reelection next year, publicly criticized Murray’s proposal on Tuesday, saying it "would kill the possibility" of enacting meaningful tax reform.

Murray’s office did not return a request for comment.

The budget proposal is expected to include about $1 trillion in tax hikes and $975 billion in spending cuts.

Republicans will likely insist that many of those cuts are illusory.

The talking points released by Murray’s office and obtained by the Free Beacon on Wednesday include deficit reduction measures that have previously been criticized as dishonest.

One bullet point says the measure will save $240 billion "by carefully and responsibly cutting defense spending to align with the drawdown of troops in our overseas operations."

Budget committee Republicans described similar proposals to take credit for savings achieved through previously planned troop withdrawals as "a budget gimmick since it claims savings from money that would never be spent in the first place."