Within hours after Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced his controversial 2014 Republican budget proposal this morning, Democrats unveiled their own plan - one that differs dramatically from the GOP blueprint in a number of critical ways, and will set the stage for what is sure to be a bitter negotiating process between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.
The Democratic proposal, penned by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, seeks $1.85 trillion worth of savings over 10 years, through an equal combination of tax revenue increases and spending cuts, the Associated Press reports. But according to the AP, about half of those savings would go toward repealing sequestration - the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that went into effect this month. As the Ryan budget proposal will not plausibly get any major traction among Democrats, so will Murray's be a non-starter with most Republicans.
"We gave the president $650 or so billion in taxes at the end of the year... Now we need to deal with the spending problem," McConnell said. "Until we make our entitlement programs fit the demographics of our country, you can't save America, you can't save the health care system."
Earlier this afternoon, Senate Democrats unveiled Murray's plan to President Obama, in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters afterward the plan was "balanced" - meaning "equal cuts with equal revenue" - but he would not comment further on its contents.
Mr. Obama, too, remained mum about the proposal when questioned about it after his meeting with Senate Democrats. But White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier today that while the president didn't expect the administration to agree with every detail of Murray's plan, he did think it would be grounded in a set of shared Democratic principles.
Republicans are less optimistic.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said today that while she thinks it's "positive" Senate Democrats have "committed to doing a budget" at all, she didn't find the details particularly promising - particularly the part suggesting "they're going to increase taxes" by nearly a trillion dollars.
And Democrats continue to rail against the Ryan plan, which Reid argued "slashes programs that are critical to the middle."
"Instead of asking the wealthiest to pay a little more he's going after education, health care research, preventive health like cancer screenings and much more," he said. "It's too bad that Republicans are even moving further to the right than we thought they could."
In the meantime, Reid also noted that Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is blocking a short-term bill to fund the government through the end of September, and that he'd now have to use newly agreed upon Senate filibuster rules to move the bill forward.
A spokesperson for Coburn's office said the senator "wants to have time to actually read the bill."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., another Republican senator who is putting a hold on the CR, said on the Senate floor this afternoon that he's going to put his head together with Coburn and see how quickly the two can get through the 587-page legislation. McCain signaled that he might clear the way for Democrats to file cloture on the bill within "a few hours."