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Senate Dems offer a budget with a 10-year fiscal vision

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By USA Today
Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 7:21 p.m.
 

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats released a budget resolution on Wednesday for a 10-year fiscal vision that would trim the deficit and protect entitlement programs. It calls for more spending for roads and schools and for higher taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans to protect middle-class earners.

The budget — the first one Senate Democrats have produced since 2009 — stands in sharp contrast to the House Republicans' plan released on Tuesday that calls for cuts in corporate and individual taxes and aims to balance the budget in 10 years, fundamentally overhaul Medicare and eliminate President Obama's health care law.

“The American people are going to have an opportunity to examine these budgets side by side,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. “They are going to be able to decide which approach is best for our economy, best for jobs and best for the middle class.”

The House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the competing budgets next week in their respective chambers. Both are likely to pass on party-line votes.

The two chambers are not likely to be able to reconcile their competing blueprints, but they serve as philosophical touchstones in the battles between the president and Congress on deficit reduction, federal spending, entitlements and increasing the debt ceiling.

Murray's blueprint calls for fully replacing the sequester — $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years that kicked in March 1 — with a 50/50 combination of spending cuts and new revenue.

The plan aims to reduce the deficit to below 3 percent of GDP by 2015 and keeping it below that level through the 10-year budget window.

It includes $975 billion in spending cuts, including $275 billion from health care programs Medicare and Medicaid, $240 billion from defense and $242 billion in estimated savings on interest payments, as well as $975 billion in new revenue from closing tax loopholes and eliminating tax expenditures that benefit the wealthy. It does not call for raising individual tax rates.

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