WASHINGTON — Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad, D-Neb., on Tuesday introduced the Bowles-Simpson budget deficit reduction proposal as his long-term budget plan and said the committee will begin considering it Wednesday.
An April 18 version of the proposal called the Fiscal Commission Budget Plan on the committee’s website, dated April 18, is similar to the original plan released in November 2010 in that it recommends prohibiting tax-exemption for any new municipal bonds as an illustrative example of tax expenditure cuts needed for comprehensive tax reform.
That presidential commission was chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, and former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson from Wyoming.
The legislative language of the long-term budget plan, which also appears on the committee’s website, does not contain specifics. Instead it says, “In the Senate, all committees are directed to review programs and tax expenditures within their jurisdiction to identify waste, fraud, abuse or duplication, and increase the use of performance data to inform committee work.”
Speaking to reporters, Conrad made clear that the Budget Control Act Congress approved last summer already provides spending limits for the budget for 2012 and 2013 so that there is no need to push this through Congress before the election, which he said would be impossible to do anyway.
“What we do not have is agreement on a long-term budget plan. That is what we must now work to achieve,” he told reporters at a press conference.
In a statement issued later he said that while the budget committee will begin marking up — considering and voting on the plan — tomorrow, “I intend to give members of the committee an extended period to evaluate my chairman’s mark. he initial phase of the markup will end on Wednesday. We will have statements, but we will not complete our work tomorrow.”
Conrad, who has announced he will retire when his term ends later this year, was a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission, as well as the so-called Group of Six, each of which focused on deficit-reduction issues. He told reporters, “What becomes very clear is how long it takes to do this kind of work. We need to start the discussions, the negotiations, now.”