“Different Political Planets” Collide: Disagreements Abound On First Day of Budget Meetings In Congress

On the first day they met, they agreed to meet again

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Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images

Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray eye the ceremonial gavel before the start of the House-Senate conference committee on the congressional budget on Oct. 30, 2013.

On the first day they met, they agreed to meet again.

At the end of the first Senate and House budget conference since 2009, that was pretty much the only tangible that could be taken away. The committee, which was formed at the end of the last government shutdown in hopes of preventing the next, has been tasked with recommending a compromise that would set a new budget for the coming year. The 29 conferees will next gather in public on November 13, a month before the conference is to report its recommendations to Congress.

From the beginning of Wednesday’s session, the two political parties proved once again that they share little common ground and contradicting priorities. In their opening statements, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) failed to mention sequestration and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) failed to mention the national debt. The only time Murray mentioned the deficit was to say that it had been cut in half since 2011. Ryan mentioned the national debt eight times, including at the conclusion of his speech when he advocated for making a down payment on the debt.

“Everybody was part of the problem, so everybody has to be part of the solution,” said Ryan, referring to the $17 trillion debt. “But you’ve got to make an accurate diagnosis before you can fill out a prescription.”

The conferees’ statements, like the House and Senate budgets, reflect a stark difference in governing philosophy. For example, the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said the sequester “is in law and must be maintained.” His counterpart in the House, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), favors replacing sequestration, calling it “job-killing.”

The proximity of such ideologically opposed men and women around the square table led to some amusing exchanges. Citing polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) began by saying that the American people don’t want cuts in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid. Without notes his voice rose on the issue of unemployment and its prevalence among young adults and minority groups. He then went on a tirade against overseas corporate tax havens and the bloated Department of Defense. “Do not balance the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable people in this country—the elderly, the children, the sick, working families,” said Sanders.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), smiling, then took his turn. “I like Sen. Sanders, but I disagree with virtually everything he said,” Graham stated to laughter. “And that brings us to what we’re trying to do here, reconcile his worldview with mine. And they’re different—it’s like we’re on different political planets here,” Graham then turned the conversation to tackling the national debt.

The likeliest outcome of such a diverse conference, short of abject failure, is that a majority of the 22 senators and a majority of the 7 congressmen will find a way to ameliorate some of the sequester’s cuts, scheduled to total nearly $110 billion for the 2014 fiscal year. Even this will prove problematic, however, as some Democrats continue to push for a “balanced” approach, with revenue raisers as part of any deal.

“We continue to hear from our Republican colleagues an unwillingness to close a single tax loophole for the purpose of reducing the deficit or replacing sequester,” said Van Hollen after the conference. “So that sounds like a line in the sand to me. But again, maybe this kind of discussion will change some minds.”

While most Republicans did not address or refused to support raising revenue as part of a compromise, Deputy House Whip Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said that there were some tax deductions he could accept in an agreement with Democrats. “There are a number of pro-growth policies that, if enacted, would generate significant revenues for the federal government and grow our economy,” said Cole. “Policies like repatriation of corporate profits from overseas, expanded oil and gas exploration both offshore and on federal land, one-time federal asset sales and the like.”

“More revenue doesn’t and shouldn’t mean higher taxes,” he added.

The last person to give their remarks was Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who quoted an 1862 speech by President Abraham Lincoln. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present,” said King. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

The congressmen smiled and Sessions tapped the table in agreement. Maybe, it was a small start.

26 comments
Palerider1957
Palerider1957

"Swampland, yeah that's a good name for this section of Time. A breeding ground for blood-sucking leeches and mosquito's.
I seem to remember that the Constitution says that Bills for Revenue originate in the House of Representatives, not the Senate or a "joint commission". Hold on, let me check, I could be wrong.....

Nope, I was right, right here it is:
"ALL Bills for raising Revenue SHALL ORIGINATE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills." {emphasis added} Article 1, Section 7; U.S. Constitution

Now, seeing as the Democrats have REFUSED to pass a budget since 2007!, and have TRIPLED the Debt/deficit; why are the Republicans allowing this usurpation of our Constitution and their authority?

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

I've said it before , if politicians were NOT paid during a shutdown , it would not happen .

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

Perhaps after the next mid-term and general elections, we, the people who pay for these self-serving clowns to bleed the country dry, can make sure that these fools really "do nothing".

BalthazarMithrandir
BalthazarMithrandir

Our refusal to regulate Wall Street, raise taxes on the mega-wealthy by just a couple percent more (would make a bigger difference than people assume), and making taxpayers feed these corrupt institutions (private prisons and other corporate entities, which is hilarious to me, the NSA, the paychecks of useless Congresspeople) instead of say, public school reform (dumping standardized testing for one thing), the "prison culture" we've created, felonies for non-violent offenders and filling the prisons, which have cost taxpayers an insurmountable number, and our continued feeding to the bloated military industrial complex... there is no mystery as to our budget issues, it's a matter of acknowledging it, and acknowledging the ones who REALLY suffer the most from this (everyone who isn't an opportunistic politician or the 1% but of course, especially as you go lower and lower into the income brackets, and look at those ethnic groups not "Caucasian/white").

Curious_Quiche
Curious_Quiche

This committee business is like negotiating with a hyena for your own flesh. It wants a leg, and you think you've done well talking it down to just a foot, but then it's finished and you're crawling away and it's time to "negotiate" again.

One time federal asset sales.....Jesus.

These blackhearted Republicans won't be satisfied until the heart's blood of our republic is dripping off their canines. They are going to dismantle every government program until there are none left and Americans exist only to provide luxury for the wealthiest. Jackals should be put down, not put in a room with human people to decide what's for dinner.

One time federal asset sales, Tom Cole should be drawn and quartered.


drudown
drudown

Hmm. 

I wonder if ANY other Federal EMPLOYEES tried to engage in this Committee's "failure" to perform their JOB…hmm, say, if a US Postal worker "refused" to deliver mail to "liberal" or "conservative" residents for an entire year…or a Federal Magistrate or Circuit Judge "opted out" of his/her express responsibilities on account of self-described "loyalty" to their "partisan ideology"….who are we kidding…they'd BE FIRED from their respective positions. 

Read: there simply IS NO SELF-PERCEIVED, GOP "discretion" to perform Article I, Section 8's revenue-raising functions for which they ALL receive compensation.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

If the Republicans are so upset about the national debt that they mostly created, then put in a national tax on ALL income starting at $200,000 at a low percentage 0.5% and going up every $200,000 at 0.5% increments until it reaches an agreed upon max of 5%, 8%, 75% (pick a number) but include all income, personal and business and wherever it was earned if the business has any presence in the US.  Make them say that they don't care about the national debt THAT MUCH!  If Romney had been elected, "national debt" would be two words you would never hear.

barneydidit
barneydidit

Ah  the debt and the deficit...those two fiscal entities the Republicans are going to get under control for us because...well...because the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility. 

Now granted, it was the Republican Reagan that exploded the debt and the deficit in the first place....after Jimmy Carter reduced the deficit, but other than that little glitch...well...and then I guess there was George W. Bush that took a surplus and turned it back into a deficit, and doubled the debt in the process...But that's all ancient history, Paul Ryan has a PLAN to reduce the debt and the deficit...it's a concrete, well thought out plan backed up by documented numbers- he's going to start by....well...he's definitely going to recommend doing the exact opposite of whatever the Democrats on the committee recommend. 

jmac
jmac

My Texas State Senator sent a pamphlet bragging what the Texas State legislature passed this year (controlled by Republicans):

First off the bat - They strengthened religious liberties ( so teachers can now say Merry Christmas to students without fear of reprimand)

They gave businesses who gross up to $1 million annually  a guaranteed $1 million deduction from franchise tax; those grossing less don't have to pay the state margin tax

And they made tremendous leaps to defend life

----------

Meeting to agree to meet again seems like progress compared to the state I live in.  

j45ashton
j45ashton

Here we go again.  Big decision for Ryan.  He doesn't have the guts to compromise.  It will be like he's the emcee.  And come Jan & Feb, he'll pull the curtain back and guess who'll be there?  The perennial  fool named Cruz.

tom.litton
tom.litton

Here is the problem.  The republicans don't have the votes to both not raise taxes and balance the budget.  They have to choose what the want more and trade the other to get it.

The other option is to extend the CR/debt limit until 2015 hoping to gain enough votes in the election to get both.  However, that seems very unlikely at this point.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

“'Everybody was part of the problem, so everybody has to be part of the solution,' said Ryan, referring to the $17 trillion debt."

I can see why you'd want to blame "everybody" when you're a leader of a party the created that debt with two unaffordable tax cuts, two ill-conceived wars and occupations, an unpaid for expansion of Medicare and a banking crisis leading to a huge recession. A decent journalist might want to bring that up in a post about Congresscritters avoiding dealing with our budget and the subject of the debt.

jsfox
jsfox

[Eye roll] I love folks who banter about what is in the Constitution without having a clue to what it actually means.

Chosun1
Chosun1

@Curious_Quiche -- There are a lot of federal assets that could be sold without anyone noticing.  They have land and buildings that shouldn't even belong to them (either because the feds stopped using them long ago or never used them).  The government is regularly engaging in asset sales.  Selling more assets could raise billions.  They should also consider charging a lot more for mining on federal lands.

drudown
drudown

It is amazing what the following would do for the Federal government: (1) close all Corporate loopholes; (2) retroactively "capture" losses from said Corporate loopholes for those with excess of $1mm profits annually [while offering future tax deductions/subsidies in the future to offset losses]; (3) allow Corporations to "repatriate" the TRILLIONS in offshore profits with flat tax [e.g., 15%]; and (4) materially reduce unnecessary agencies [e.g., Homeland Security] that can be replicated by simply passing surplus funds to Several States [e.g., directly to State, County and Municipal Police/Fire/EMT] and "reorganize" or "absorb" Homeland Security into Pentagon or DOD.

With Federal surplus, there is no limit to what can be achieved: job training; job creation; tax increment financing-type vehicles; secured lending to small businesses at lowest rates; tax subsidies to most important market players; increased regulatory oversight; subsidized hazardous waste/"fracking" water disposal, et al.

How is that not preferable to cutting the Social Safety net after "outsourcing" the US industrial/manufacturing base and slowly withering away in place?

Conspicuously, as "accurate" as Krauthammer's hearsay synopsis of Paul Ryan or Rand  Paul's purported "observations" on the pending Insolvency if "reforms" aren't made…no GOP "plan" to kill Social Security/Medicaid/Medicare is going to help anybody, much less our Democracy.

To even intimate revenue could be raised in other ways is laughable. Sad, but still absurd in its own right.

"oh no! we 'just can't' reorganize debts with the EU and Russia so let's just all wither away and decay, shall we?"

Duh.

How about a different play?

Palerider1957
Palerider1957

"
LOL. Too bad the FACTS prove YOU WRONG!
FACT: Under George W. Bush, the government accumulated a debt equal to all debt incurred by the U.S. government from 1789 until 1994. Most of this came after the Democrats secured both Chambers of Congress in 2006.

Now, Under Obama, the government accumulated a debt equal to all debt incurred by the U.S. government from 1789 until 2008, (INCLUDING ALL THE BUSH). ANd that was just the first TWO (2) YEARS of the Obama Administration. As it stands today, Obama has spent more money than ANYBODY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!!!!
Check Forbes News. Check a few other sites and you will see it's true. But I know, it's the Republicans fault, it's Bush's fault, it's the Tea Party fault, ANYBODY but Obama's fault! Then you wonder why us Conservatives call you Libtards!



drudown
drudown

@j45ashton 

From whence comes this unseasonable notion our Nation's Full Faith and Credit "lies with one man"? Whether Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, John Boehner blah blah blah

You imply that public service in Congress is some cheap parlor trick Paul Ryan or Ted Cruz can "take over"…and (let me guess) thereby "absolve" the GOP Congress in some way? Enough of this shopworn game of "hot potato". The whole Nation remembers the whole GOP Congress VOTED for the "shut down". 

What exactly absolves the ENTIRE GOP CONGRESS from years of INACTION promulgating a commercially reasonable Budget as required by LAW on an ANNUAL basis? Do tell.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@shepherdwong everybody has to be part of the solution, except for republican's who aren't willing to give up anything to achieve a balanced budget.

Palerider1957
Palerider1957

@jsfox Any time you wish to debate or discuss the Constitution, let me know, cause I will blow your little pea brain right out of the water!!!!
You are probably one of those dolts who think the U.S.A. is a Democracy too!! LOL!!!

Curious_Quiche
Curious_Quiche

@Chosun1 @Curious_Quiche You know what, that sounds really reasonable, but I live in Louisiana and I have seen first hand what the Republican idea of asset liquidation is. Bobby Jindal has torpedoed public education, selling state land traditionally used by the state university to developers, to say nothing of what he's done to funding, he's closed vital ferries across the river, selling the operating rights to private investors who have opted not to reopen them, instead operating toll road chokepoints. He's sold a landfill operation license to anyone with cash, so we have had several of the things open up within city limits in some cases. He's trying like hell to sell our prisons to subsidy leeches, but the legislature is afraid of losing that particular avenue of graft.

So when Tom Cole starts talking about one time asset sales, I don't hear mining rights, I hear private penitentiaries. I don't hear liquidating disused buildings, I hear private contractors running our interstates. I don't hear land auctions, I hear landfills.

Everything else these vultures have touched has turned to sh|t and I don't expect them suddenly showing up with reasonable goals. They just shut the whole government down for Christingly stupid reasons and the economy itself was at stake. Now, the only thing at stake is their public perception and we've seen what value they put on that.

drudown
drudown

Correction: to even intimate revenue could NOT be raised in other ways is laughable.

Namely, an Executive Agreement with the EU, UK and Russia to deal in order to create new Stimulus money to shared evenly between them.


ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

@Palerider1957 Well, you nEed to find some real facts and quit quoting FAUX.  The national debt when George 2 left office was in excess of $11,5 trillion.  He had doubled what he inherited plus the money that was coming in to pay it down as EVERY DEMOCRATIC administration has done.  Then George fought his two wars off the book but we did have to pay for them plus his stupid tax cuts  and his relaxation of policies that led us in to his bank fiasco and Depression.  President Obama has added about $5 trillion to trying to get the country back out of the Republican Depression ditch but that is hard to do because responsible governments raise after the economy improves but Republicans are so beholden to Mittens and his 1% friends that the rest of the country can suffer so they get their contributions (bribes).  And President Obama doubled the George Bush numbers-that is pure garbage that you can check anywhere with reasonable reporting and that doesn't include FAUX.  Hell, even the WSJ probably reports that accurately.

drudown
drudown

@tom.litton @shepherdwong 

How does that not make the GOP members the "problem"? What, they get to cite some self-perceived "partisan privilege" to NOT follow the Constitution because their "base" doesn't want to? Bollocks.

Palerider1957
Palerider1957

@jsfox  Oh, and by the way, as far as you saying about not having a clue, I think the QUOTE of the Constitution I gave is pretty SELF-EXPLANATORY!!! As is ALL of the Constitution.
I love you stupid Liberals who think you know something when the EXACT OPPOSITE is true and the proof is right in front of you. And still you cannot comprehend the simple meaning of words!  ROFLMAO!!!


Palerider1957
Palerider1957

@ARTRaveler @Palerider1957No YOU need to get the facts and stop repeating the LIES of O'Blowhole and the Demon-rats!
FACT:

In the four years that Pelosi was Speaker the national debt increased an unbelievable 60%.

When the Pelosi Democrats took control of Congress on January 4, 2007, the national debt stood at $8,670,596,242,973.04 — that’s $8.67 trillion. Today, the last day of the 111th Congress and Pelosi’s Speakership, the national debt is $13,871,130,353,817.40 — that’s $13.87 trillion. A $5.2 trillion in just four years.

FACT: Since the Democrats took control of both Chambers of Congress, America hasn't seen a budget since!! Check it yourself!

And if you still have a problem with TRUTH and FACTS: Here are some from the GOVERNMENT itself:
TOTAL DEBT 2007: 9,007,653,372,262.48
TOTAL DEBT 2013: 16,066,241,407,385.89
TOTAL DEBT 2000: (that would be when G.W. Bush took over) 09/30/2000 5,674,178,209,886.86

And as far as the B.S. of "It's Bush and the Republicans fault. O'Blowhole "inherited" this.
He RAN for the job knowing the situation. He PROMISED that he would lower the debt by HALF by the end of his first term, AND he said he would fix the economy in his FIRST TERM!!
None of that happened, and yet you still blame Bush!?? LOL!!
Your man LIED, and you can't handle it. You can't handle that YOU GOT PLAYED THE FOOL!!! and will say and do anything to not look so foolish. Sorry, you FAILED!

"That fact that we are here today debating a debt ceiling increase is a sign of leadership failure." - 2006- Senator Obama
(Yet he has raised the debt EVERY YEAR he has been in office. According to O''Blowhole's OWN WORDS, he is a LOUSY LEADER!!! LOL!!!)
Yeah, keep pushing the lies on issues that you have no clue about, and then challenge someone with FACTS with your propaganda and rhetoric. You will lose every time, but then you already knew that, LOSER!!!! LOL!!!