(CNSNews.com) – Leading GOP senators challenged the Democratic majority and President Barack Obama to work with Senate Republicans on a budget, before Senate Republicans forced four votes on Republican budgets and one based on the president’s budget plan Wednesday.
“People say, ‘Compromise! Compromise! Be a moderate,’” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
“Well, how do we do that if the other side has no plan and won’t talk to us? How do you find middle ground with a party that has no plan?”
Senate Republicans forced votes on five budget proposals: one offered by Sen. Paul; one each offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah); House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposal, and a measure modeled after President Obama’s budget, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.). All failed.
Sessions called President Obama’s budget “utterly irresponsible,” during the press conference just hours before the Senate vote.
“A sitting president of the United States seeking reelection can’t lay out a plan that will gain a single vote in the House or Senate for the financial future of America. It’s really a stunning event that speaks volumes,” Sessions said.
Though not expecting the GOP bills to pass in the Democrat-controlled chamber, the Republican senators said they relished the opportunity to contrast their vision with the majority party that they say has failed to pass a budget in over three years.
The bills each carry the goals of balancing the budget, cutting spending and reforming entitlements, and vary only in time frames and reduction amounts.
“What you’re going to witness today on the Senate floor is a simple and unambiguous fact, and that is: There is one party that is seriously addressing these problems with specific reform ideas, with a specific vision for how we get on a sustainable fiscal path,” said Toomey. “And there’s another party that absolutely refuses to say anything about what their vision is, what they intend to do.
“It is just nothing less than shocking to me,” he added.
Sen. Paul said the Republican plans would balance the budget.
“We have a budget that will balance in 5 years, the Senate Democrats have no budget,” Paul told reporters. “The president has a budget that never balances. We’ve got infinity on one side and 5 years on the other. How do you find middle ground?”
Paul’s measure would eliminate the Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Energy Departments, cut spending by $11 trillion more than the president’s budget, create a 17 percent flat tax and implement entitlement reforms.
“At least we’re putting a plan forward, we’re doing our job,” Paul said. “Those who aren’t, I think, should give back their salary.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the Republican-sponsored budgets “ridiculous.”
“They’re really, really absurd,” Reid said Tuesday. “These are all just for show.”
Sen. Lee, whose proposal would cut $9.6 trillion over 10 years, hopes the votes are the beginning of a national dialogue.
“The votes that we cast today are the beginning and by no means the end of the necessary action that is being discussed today,” he said.
“It will end one way or another in the U.S. government balancing its budget,” Lee said. “But how we get there matters.”
He added: “If we wait until the bond market forces us into a position of immediate balance the result will be destructive, it will be devastating.”
Lee said we can avoid more economic pain “if we start making the incremental and necessary changes now.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis), meanwhile, said the GOP is willing to work with Senate Democrats and the president.
“We’re willing to work with anybody who’s willing to, first of all, acknowledge the problem and then work in good faith to solve the problem,” Johnson said
But the Wisconsin conservative offered some advice to “the Democratic side of the aisle”:
“They should compromise with each other to -- I guess with the president -- to develop a budget to maybe get one vote from a member of his own party,” he said.