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Thune, Johnson differ on GOP, Dem budgets

Posted: Friday, Mar 15th, 2013

HURON — Opposing fiscal visions for the federal government have emerged in budgets proposed by Senate Democrats and House Republicans, continuing a philosophical divide unlikely to merge into compromise without concessions.

South Dakota’s senators staked out the party differences in separate conference calls Wednesday, reiterating many of the points they have made before and after the $85 billion in deep across-the-board budget cuts were implemented last month.

“The problem isn’t that Washington doesn’t tax too little, it spends too much,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said.

Democrats are proposing a budget that represents the same big spending and big government policies of the last four years, he said.

But Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., counters that Senate Democrats are calling for a budget that is balanced, and asks the wealthiest to pay their fair share while cutting spending in a responsible manner.

The budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin turns Medicare into a voucher system and puts the burden on paying for health care onto seniors, Johnson said.

Democrats also want to end subsidies to big oil companies, which he said allows them to rake in billions in profits.

The Democratic plan would raise taxes by $1 trillion over 10 years, on top of the $1.7 trillion in tax increases already enacted by President Obama, Thune said.

Ryan’s budget would balance the federal budget in a decade, starting with cuts to wasteful spending, he said. That can hardly be seen as extreme, he said.

While the president says the House plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program, Thune disagrees.

Instead, in the future, people would have more options, including Medicare, which would create competition and introduce market forces, he said.

Johnson said the Republican proposal guts investments in education, energy, technology and transportation infrastructure, while Democrats want to see sensible cuts to reduce the deficit.

But Democrats also recognize that the way to deficit reduction is not simply cuts because they believe the wealthy and corporations need to contribute while the middle class is protected, Johnson said.

Republicans are pushing a plan that takes the country in the wrong direction by putting the burden of deficit reduction on working families and the middle class, he said.

“It ought to be a combination of some taxes and some cuts,” he said.

For the complete article see the 03-14-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-14-2013 paper.

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