Senate paving the way for big tax cut for the rich
Mitch McConnell | AP

WASHINGTON—The Senate readied itself to vote, along party lines, on October 19 on a budget blueprint for the fiscal year that started this month – a blueprint whose main function is to clear the way for a big tax cut for the rich.

And unions and their Democratic allies don’t like that.

The solons spent much of the week of October 16-20 debating the budget, which the GOP-run Senate Budget Committee approved by party-line votes the week before. The GOP-run House approved its own budget blueprint earlier in the month.

The key difference is that once the two hash out a combined version, that clears the way for spending cuts and the tax cut, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can jam through under special “budget reconciliation” rules letting him need only 50 votes, plus Vice President Pence as a tie-breaker, out of the 52 Republican senators.

And McConnell has already apparently won over two key Republican moderates, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, to passing the budget blueprint, if not the tax cut itself.

“There are a number of things we don’t like” in the Senate budget resolution, Government Employees (AFGE) Legislative Director Thomas Kahn told an October 17 telephone press conference. Levels of “discretionary spending” – for everything from federal fire fighting to national parks to education aid and labor law enforcement – “are far too low.”

But unlike the House’s budget blueprint, “It does not have mandatory cuts to federal employees. The House budget would cut a minimum of $32 billion out of the employees, their kids, and the retirees,” he said, citing both higher pension contributions and a small pay hike.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., the Senate Budget Committee’s top Democrat, says it’s a a lot worse than that, with the tax cut for the rich as its looming centerpiece.

“In total, the Republican budget would cut more than $5 trillion over the next decade from education, health care, affordable housing, child care, nutrition assistance, transportation and other programs that working people desperately need,” he said.

“The budget would make it harder for children to get a decent education, harder for families to get the health care they desperately need, harder for families to put food on the table, harder to protect our environment and harder for the elderly to live their retirement years in dignity.

“The Republican budget is a massive transfer of wealth from working families, the elderly, children, the sick and the poor to the top 1 percent. Not only would it cut Medicaid by $1 trillion, it would also cut Medicare by more than $470 billion in order to pay for hundreds of billions in tax breaks to the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in America.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.