This vote was on the budget resolution that serves as the blueprint for Congress’ budget priorities in fiscal 2010. The budget resolution sets overall spending targets for the Appropriations committees and outlines other budget rules. This final vote on the measure came after Democrats spent several days turning back Republican attempts to slash spending, particularly spending that overlapped with the recently-enacted economic stimulus law, or to protect expiring Bush-era tax cuts.
The measure would assume $1.08 trillion in spending for fiscal 2010, and allow for a three-year exemption from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Devised in 1969, the AMT was intended as a way to capture more tax revenues from a handful of very wealthy people so adept at using loopholes that they paid little into the federal treasury. But the program has come under scrutiny in recent years, because an increasing number of middle-class taxpayers have found themselves subject to the tax. This is largely because the AMT’s formulas do not account for inflation or recent tax cuts.
The bill also would create numerous exceptions to the spending limit, including one that would allow for future legislation to overhaul the health care system, and another for future legislation to create a “cap and trade” program for carbon emissions. “Cap and trade” refers to a program where greenhouse gas emissions for industry would be capped at a certain level. If those industries wanted or needed to go above that cap, they would have to trade or purchase emissions credits from other companies that were below the cap.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the budget tackles difficult economic times with funding for infrastructure, energy independence and health care programs.
“This budget resolution makes clear that we cannot continue to cut taxes for a handful of wealthy individuals, at the expense of the many and hope that someday the benefits will trickle down. That course of action would lead to deeper and deeper deficits. The prior administration’s fiscal policies failed. They left us in difficult and uncertain times. Unemployment in my state of Michigan and across the country is sky high,” Levin said.
Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said the budget, informed by President Obama’s choices, will end up running up a “huge deficit” that will mean indebtedness for many years to come. He also criticized the budget’s allowance for a future cap and trade system, calling it an “energy tax.”
“It not only lets some of the existing tax rates expire—thus raising taxes—but implements a colossal energy tax that will impact every American household—regardless of income—and is estimated to drop an additional $3,168 annual bill on every family, on top of its existing energy costs. Remember, candidate Obama told us that under this energy plan, ‘electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.’ Why is this a good idea?” Kyl said. “This budget would saddle American taxpayers, businesses, and industry—everyone—with a bevy of new tax increases and regulations that, once enacted, will unavoidably harm job creation and growth by making it more expensive for businesses to hire and by removing money from the private economy and transferring it to Washington.”
By a vote of 55-43, the Senate adopted the budget resolution. All but two Democrats present voted for the measure. Every Republican present voted against the measure. The end result is that the Senate passed a budget resolution outlining $1.08 trillion in spending and revenue targets in fiscal 2010.