Summary of Conference Call - Senators Thune and Ensign

Several of us were invited to a conference call today with Senators Thune (R-SD) and Ensign (R-NV), on the topic of the budget.

Each Senator said a few words, then there was a bit of Q&A.

A short summary follows….

Senator Thune spoke first, and noted several things:

o The present budget proposal does too much of three things – taxing, spending, and borrowing;
o Next year’s budget is projected to be $3.9 trillion – which would place it at about 28% of GDP…. a level not seen since WW2;
o All of this will double the federal debt in five years and triple it in ten.

Senator Ensign then added a few remarks:

o President Obama promised not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year; however, the new “energy taxes” alone break this promise;
o Basically no one on “Team Obama” has ever worked in the business sector;
o The higher taxes are pointed squarely at small business – and in this environment, with no ability to raise prices, it’s clear that the extraction will have to come out of very meaningful activities.

To summarize a few interesting points that came up in toto during the Q&A:

o The only “cut” in the budget is the cutting of the military budget;
o The health care part is a disaster waiting to happen – Obama’s $600+ billion on this is, in his own words, merely a “down payment”;
o The entire White House scoring on this is, to say the least, grossly over-optimistic – as it understates the costs in the “out years,” and also assumes very rosy GDP growth numbers (and thus revenue numbers);
o All “savings” come out of defense; as one of the Senators noted, in terms of priorities this is clearly a leftist “dream” budget that “raises taxes and cuts the military budget”;
o As per a question from Jen Rubin, this scenario has gotten to be so untenable that even some Democrats are beginning to back away from it; Senator Conrad (D-ND), who is the chairman of the budget committee, has become particularly noteworthy on this count.