It’s been 754 days since Senate Democrats passed their last budget, and on a conference call today, Senator Schumer boldly declared that producing budget “is not the point.” With the nation over $14 trillion in debt and Senate Democrats’ top communicator saying the Senate doesn’t have the bandwidth to deal with more than one budget at a time – keep in mind they are dealing with the House-produced budget – shows just how unserious Senate Democrats truly are about getting the nation’s fiscal house in order.
Schumer: Alternatives to Ryan budget 'not the point'
May 23, 2011
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) downplayed the lack of a Democratic budget proposal Monday, saying there’s simply no room to deal with an alternative until the Senate has voted on the House GOP’s controversial proposal.
“To put other budgets out there is not the point,” Schumer told reporters.
He said nothing will — or should — happen during budget negotiations this week to take the focus away from the Senate’s vote on the House budget, specifically its plan to convert Medicare into a sort of voucher plan.
Senate Republicans continue to criticize Democratic leadership for forcing a vote on the House budget and hammering away at its Medicare component without introducing an alternative. They’ve also pushed for a vote on a budget proposal sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that leaves Medicare alone.
But Democrats won’t let other proposals get in the way of their message on the House budget, which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) authored.
“This issue will have staying power and be a defining issue for 2012,” Schumer said.
Senate Budget Committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) has sidelined his committee’s work while separate bipartisan negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, continue.
Conrad may still release a 2012 budget and the White House could come forward with a more specific proposal, Schumer said, but his party is in no hurry to talk about any proposal other than Ryan’s — even though House appropriators have already started work on spending bills that use the Ryan plan as a foundation.
“You can’t do anything until you get that off the table,” Schumer said.
Congressional Democrats and the Obama administration have stepped up their attacks on Ryan's Medicare proposal as the Senate nears its scheduled vote.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attacked the plan last week during a news conference with Senate Democrats. And Don Berwick, who runs the agency that administers Medicare, also took aim at the Ryan plan over the weekend.
"We're sending them out on their own into a very, very difficult terrain. I think there will be Medicare beneficiaries in the future, under that plan, who won't be able to afford insurance. They won't be covered. And I think that would be a very bad thing to do for our nation," Berwick said during an interview on C-SPAN that was co-moderated by Healthwatch.