“I don’t know if you know anyone who has climbed to the top of Mt. Everest, but I’m told it’s quite an undertaking. It apparently took Sir Edmund Hillary several weeks to do it in the 1950s. Well, I’m told that my friends across the aisle could have scaled Everest almost 300 times in the nearly four years that have gone by since they last passed a budget. They could have taken 179 trips to the Moon or built three Pentagons.
“Well, today it looks like that’s all about to change. It’s nice to see that, after years of playing budget peak-a-boo, Senate Democrats are finally ready to take up their most basic of responsibilities, and only a few weeks after the chairwoman of the Budget Committee indicated they might skip it, for the fourth year in a row.
“What’s unfortunate is that it’s required so much pressure to get them to do so. It’s a stark contrast to House Republicans, who’ve taken their duties seriously.
“Over there, Committee hearings have been held. Budget resolutions have been marked up. Amendments have been considered.
“More importantly, the House has passed serious budgets annually, as the law requires. They’ve laid out their priorities for the public to see: their plans to control spending, to save our most important social programs from collapse, to reform an outdated and anti-competitive tax code, and to streamline government bureaucracies that are suffocating job creation.
“They’ve done their jobs, while Senate Democrats have tried to keep their priorities a secret.
“We know Senate Democrats don’t like the House budgets. And we know they don’t even support the President’s budgets — at least not with their votes. What we haven’t known for nearly four years is what they’re for, because they’ve refused to put their plans for the country down on paper and actually vote for them.
“Now, it’s my hope that the Democrats’ sudden interest in passing a budget isn’t just another attempt to raise taxes. As I’ve said repeatedly, we’re done with revenue. The President has already said that the so-called ‘rich’ are now paying their ‘fair share,’ and of course middle-income families are already on the hook for new taxes as a result of Obamacare.
“So the question is, who would be in the firing line this time? At what cost?
“Look: struggling families shouldn’t have to pick up the tab again for Washington’s inability to live within its means.
“We need to start solving the actual problem, which is spending, and we need to do it together.
“So if – and I say if – Democrats are finally ready to confront the massive fiscal and economic challenges facing our country, and to do so in a serious way, I assure them they’ll find partners on this side of the aisle.
“As for the debt limit, there’s no need to wait for final resolution of the House’s short-term legislation before we start putting a long-term debt-reduction solution together in the Senate. If the bill the House passed yesterday is signed into law, Congress will have another three months to take the debt challenge on seriously. But that does not mean we should wait a minute longer to start working on it. There’s no reason, for instance, that the Finance Committee shouldn’t begin preparing the critical spending reforms that will be necessary to get my vote, and the vote of many of my colleagues, for any long-term increase.
“Let’s get the process moving. No more brinkmanship. No more last-minute deals.
“The American people have already had to wait four years for a budget from Washington Democrats. They shouldn’t have to wait nearly as long for us to confront a debt that threatens the economy, jobs, and the future of our nation.
“Yesterday, I laid out the realities of the fiscal challenges we face as a country. We’ve delayed facing them long enough. Let’s put the politics aside and finally do the work we were sent here to do.”