Elmendorf laid out three choices policymakers must “confront” regarding sustainable budget policies, noting that the only way for the government to rein in its deficits “would be for the United States to deviate from the policies of the past 40 years” by either raising federal revenues “significantly above” their average share of GDP, making “major changes” to entitlement benefits or “substantially reduc[ing]” the role of the rest of the federal government “relative to the size of the economy.”
There was a cordial air and an expressed desire by lawmakers in the committee room to find solutions to their now multi-trillion dollar problem, while outside the committee room, Republicans attacked Obama’s jobs package.
Obama’s proposal includes significant payroll tax cuts to both employees and employers, $50 billion in education spending, with $30 billion block-granted to states for “teacher stabilization,” $50 billion in transportation projects and a national infrastructure bank. The president has challenged Congress multiple times, beginning with a speech to a joint session of Congress last week, to pass the measure immediately.
But Republicans do not see the value in some of his offerings and aren’t rushing to approve them, especially if many of the pay-for details will be left to lawmakers not bound to present a plan until Thanksgiving.
“The president can call this bill whatever he wants. But in reality, all he’s really doing is just proposing a hodgepodge of retread ideas aimed at convincing people that a temporary fix is really permanent and that it will create permanent jobs. And then daring Republicans to vote against it,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor Tuesday. “If the president is truly interested in growing the economy and putting Americans back to work, then he’ll leave the temporary proposals and the half-measures — and the tax hikes — aside.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.