Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Senators Frame Spending Debate as Shutdown Vs. Economic Disaster

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Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander said the GOP’s goal is not simply to make the case for smaller government, but to explain its benefits.

The Democratic strategy is to tailor the message to the constituent, and the DPCC has prepared localized statistics to help Senators convey the effect of the House measure and a shutdown. For instance, parents with children of or near college age would be given statistics regarding how the House Republican budget and a shutdown would affect funding for Pell Grants, which help cover the cost of university tuition.

Senate Republicans are offering a strikingly different message.

As is his custom, Alexander created two double-sided, jacket-pocket-sized cards titled “Getaway Points” for GOP Senators.

The first category is titled “Private Sector Jobs; Make it easier and cheaper to create them,” followed by bullet points: reform tax code; lower corporate tax rates; reduce federal debt; reduce health care costs; lower energy costs; permanent small-business equipment write-off; permanent research and development tax credit; moratorium on Environmental Protection Agency regulation; ratify trade agreements; and reform job training.

The second category is titled “Federal Debt; This Time Is Different.” Bullet points include statistics about the debt, as well as the harm Republicans say deficit spending is doing to Social Security, interest rates, and loans for cars, homes and college tuition.

“I have a group of charts that I will literally use to show people what the budget is about, where the money comes from, where the money goes to, where the money is spent, and then the deficit and the impact of running deficits over a period of time,” Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said. “It’s very, very compelling.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) disagreed, saying that the Republicans’ position on the continuing resolution was “risky, reckless and extreme.” Senate Republicans support the overall level of spending cuts approved by the House, although they might want to make adjustments in how those reductions are applied.

But Whitehouse said his message to constituents would be not to worry too much about it.

“We have a bicameral system of government with a House and a Senate, and we’re supposed to be the counterweight,” he said. “We obviously recognize the need to make budget cuts, but we need to make responsible ones that don’t cut off the economic recovery that we’re beginning to see and don’t kill jobs, the way the Republicans are doing.”

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