Conrad Unveils Budget Framework

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Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) outlined a budget framework Monday that he said would reduce deficits by $4 trillion between 2012 and 2021.

Democrats on the committee developed the framework, which Conrad presented in a speech on the Senate floor. As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), deficits would decline from 9.3 percent in 2011 to 1.3 percent  by 2021.

The framework assumes that the deficit reduction will be divided evenly between spending reductions and revenue increases. Over ten years, spending would average 22.1 percent of GDP compared to 24 percent in 2011. Revenues would average 19.5 percent over the ten years compared to 14.8 percent in 2011.

The framework includes a 3-year freeze for the White House and legislative branch budgets, $886 billion in reduced security spending, an extension of tax cuts for the middle class, and a proposal intended to simplify the tax code and reduce tax expenditures. The framework does not rely on any new Medicare or Social Security proposals for significant deficit reduction.

The committee has not scheduled a meeting to formally consider a budget resolution, which would include many of the details missing from the framework. Conrad has said that the committee will not act before the negotiations between the President and congressional leaders are complete.  Under the Budget Act, a budget resolution should have been completed by April 15.

The committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) called the framework a “phantom budget” lacking sufficient detail to be “read, ascertained, evaluated, and scored.” Sessions criticized Democrats for failing to consider a traditional budget resolution using the process required by law and raised concerns about defense cuts and revenue increases assumed in the plan.

External links:
Speech by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad
Speech by Sen. Jeff Sessions

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