Senate Republican leaders late Wednesday accused Democrats of an unprecedented power grab in trying to move President Barack Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget, while referring to Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-N.D.) version of the 2010 spending blueprint as worse than the president’s.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said Congressional Democrats appeared to be moving toward passing Obama’s major health care and environmental proposals via the budget reconciliation process, meaning they would only need to corral 51 votes for passage. McConnell referred to this as an “audacious power grab— that goes beyond what occurred when the GOP was in the majority during the previous White House administration.
“Why don’t we just shut down the Senate and call ourselves the House of Representatives,— Gregg said.
Gregg’s main criticism of Conrad’s budget plan, which he said is basically Obama’s plan with some adjustments, is that it includes the gimmicks typical of federal budgeting that even the president’s original plan made an effort to eschew. Gregg said Conrad’s proposal “hides too much.—
“As we’ve said repeatedly, the president’s budget spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. But at least he made some effort to be transparent,— McConnell said. “The [Senate Democratic] budget … seeks to hide the ball from the American taxpayer in terms of cost, taxes and policy changes that it will contain down the way. After all the bipartisan praise that budget transparency received, but Budget Committee voted to put most of the gimmicks and tricks back in.—
Earlier Wednesday, Senate Democrats emerged from a meeting with Obama and talked up their budget plan as fiscally responsible but still consistent with the president’s priorities. Some deficit hawks like Conrad, as well as the centrists within the Democratic Conference, had previously expressed concern about Obama’s budget plan.
But Conrad and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said after their lunch with Obama that his budget proposal, as adjusted by Senate Democrats, was on track to achieve the president’s goals while simultaneously assuaging concerns that it might lead to unsustainable deficits.