Conrad Moves Budget in Progressive Direction to Gain Sanders' Support
Last week, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad proposed a budget that was so conservative that fellow Democrats all but declared it dead on arrival. He's now revised his proposal, offering a more balanced approach to fiscal policy:
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on Tuesday presented a budget proposal to Senate Democrats that calls for an even balance — 50 percent to 50 percent — of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the deficit. ... That's a more even ratio between spending cuts and tax increases than what President Obama's debt commission recommended last fall. It suggested reducing deficits through two-thirds spending cuts and one-third tax increases.
In a speech last month, Obama suggested a 3-1 ratio between spending cuts and tax increases in laying out his vision for reducing deficits.
Actually, Obama's budget called for a 50/50 split in revenue increases and spending cuts. The 3:1 claim comes from a common misunderstanding of his proposal for tax reform. He said that the ratio between the combination of spending cuts plus interest savings and revenue from tax reform should be 3:1. However, the ratio of spending cuts to interest savings in his plan is 2:1. So the ratio of spending cuts to interest savings to tax reform revenue is 2:1:1. His plan also assumes the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which would be about the same amount of money as his tax reform proposal and the interest savings, meaning the ratio of spending cuts to new revenue to interest savings would be 2:2:1
Anyway, back to the Conrad proposal. One of the key reasons it has gotten better is Bernie Sanders, who isn't quite ready to jump on board, but is pleased with the direction Conrad's plan is moving:
Conrad has moved his budget proposal to the left in order to gain the support of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an outspoken progressive on the budget panel. Sanders has called for “shared sacrifice” in reducing the deficit and wants to increase taxes on families earning over a $1 million a year. ... “His budget has made real progress in the last week,” Sanders said after listening to Conrad’s presentation Tuesday afternoon. “It’s a more progressive budget, and I think it’s a stronger budget than a week ago.”
Sanders continues to believe the Democratic budget proposal needs more progressive tax reforms. At least as far as an opening bid is concerned, it's impossible to argue with him.