Senate Tea Party caucus offers deep cuts

March 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate Tea Party Caucus Thursday released a five-year plan to balance the budget by cutting spending by $11 billion above President Obama's budget.

However, "A Platform to Revitalize America," which says it would create a $111 billion surplus by 2017, has no chance of passing the Senate or making it to Obama's desk, The Hill reported.

"The whole point here is to show we can reasonably balance the budget within a five-year period," said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., one of the plan's sponsors.

"This idea that we have to look 30 years out to balance the budget is not only unnecessary, but it's improbable," he said. "We cannot continue to spend at our current rate for 10 more years, much less 20 or 30 more years. This is an urgent matter," he said.

The plan would convert Medicare into a premium support plan that would save $1 trillion over 10 years, The Hill said.

"What we're doing is telling seniors that you can have the same plan that congressmen and senators have," DeMint said. "They get the same premium support that we do."

The plan, which also includes complete makeovers for Medicaid and Social Security and an increase in the retirement age, also has the support of Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

"Our budget would actually eliminate the Department of Energy. I would take some of that money and put it into a bridges fund," Paul said.

The plan would also repeal Obama's landmark healthcare legislation and the Dodd-Frank consumer protection law.

Meanwhile, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia Thursday failed to reach an agreement with his caucus over the 2013 budget, with some Tea Party members insisting on deeper discretionary spending cuts than were agreed upon in the August debt-ceiling deal.

"We had a very productive meeting today," Cantor said. "We're looking forward to seeing the markup occur on schedule and the budget on the floor by the end of this month."

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