WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 -After almost three years of criticism from GOP leaders for not passing a budget, Senator Kent Conrad, D-N.D., will begin a Senate Budget Committee markup Wednesday of President Obama’s Fiscal Commission Budget Plan, the Bowles-Simpson plan. That mix of budget cuts and tax increases won bipartisan support in 2010, but failed to win enough votes to advance.

“I recognize adjustments will have to be made to this plan before it can be adopted,” Conrad said in a statement Tuesday. “It is not perfect, and it needs to be further updated to account for changes that have occurred since it was drafted in 2010. Those adjustments will have to be negotiated on a bipartisan basis, and those negotiations will take time.”

Conrad said he intends to give members of the committee an extended period to evaluate the Chairman’s Mark and that while the initial phase of the markup will end on Wednesday, they will not complete work on the plan until later in the year. Conrad is expected to be setting the stage for dealing with hundreds of contentious budget cutting and tax issues in the lame-duck session this fall.

Among the plan’s six components is a provision mandating savings by cutting ag subsidies. Others include modernizing military and civil service retirement systems, reforming student loan programs and “putting the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation on a sustainable path.”

The plan suggests reducing net spending on mandatory agriculture programs by $14 billion from 2013 through 2022 and allowing the Agriculture Committees to reallocate funds as necessary according to their priorities in the upcoming farm bill.

The Fiscal Commission Budget Plan provides a total of $5.4 trillion of deficit reduction over the 10 years, 2013-2022. The plan would reform the tax code as well as repeal the sequester cuts triggered by the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction not reaching agreement and replace them with other savings.

According to the plan’s text, it reduces the deficit from 7.6% of GDP in 2012 to 1.4% of GDP in 2022, and stabilizes the federal debt by 2015, bringing it down after that.


Original story printed in April 18th, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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