Senator Chuck Schumer called on Congress to press the “reset button” on budget negotiations during a speech this week at the Center for American Progress. Responding to the Republicans’ desire for draconian cuts, Sen. Schumer pointed out the absurdity of trying to fix the gaping deficit hole by solely cutting spending for programs that make up just 14% of the budget. Sen. Schumer called for all options to be on the table—including oil, gas and agricultural subsidies, along with the necessity to reform Medicaid and Medicare programs.
A vote for the House Republican spending proposal, H.R 1, along with a vote on the Senate Democratic continuing resolution, failed in the Senate late Wednesday. With the failure of this legislation, Congress can now get to work on a realistic, responsible plan to fund the government for the remainder of FY 2011. The current resolution funding the government expires March 18. This short timeframe leaves Congress with less than eight days to come to a practical compromise that takes a hard look at revenue, tax expenditures, and inefficient subsidies—without jeopardizing the safety and security of low-income people or our economic recovery.
When even young children are threatened with cuts that eliminate 218,000 spots in Head Start, or when veterans stand to lose 10,000 housing vouchers that prevent homelessness, my eyes are wide open for a sign that there are better days ahead. With any luck, the failure of both parties’ respective bills will force Congress to press the “reset” button on deficit reduction negotiations, and we will begin to see the tide turning towards responsible investment for the future of America.