March 25th, 2009
01:31 PM ET
9 years ago

Centrist Dems express concerns on Obama's budget plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans in Congress aren't the only lawmakers President Barack Obama will have to win over as he pitches his budget on Capitol Hill.

In a letter to the Senate Budget Committee dated Tuesday, 12 of the 16 members of the centrist Senate Democratic coalition - which calls itself "the moderate Dems Working Group" - expressed grave concerns about the direction of the president's $3.6 trillion budget.

The lawmakers note the Congressional Budget Office's projection of a cumulative deficit over the next 10 years of $9.3 trillion, "roughly $2.3 trillion higher than the president's budget had assumed."

The letter was addressed to Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, and ranking Senate Budget Committee member Sen. Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire. Both the Senate and House Budget Committees begin the work of drafting a budget blueprint Wednesday.

While acknowledging the economic and fiscal distress that the Obama administration has inherited, the 12 moderates say the size of the deficit projections "are not acceptable."

"When the administration examines the new data, we believe they will agree that modifications must be made to the president's budget that are both consistent with his principles and reflective of the ever-worsening fiscal reality."

The authors of the letter also noted that the nation's Social Security program must be reformed, along with the Medicare and Medicaid programs; the tax system is due for an overhaul and spending should be restricted to the goals of job creation and economic recovery.

The moderate Democrats are becoming a force to be reckoned with. One of them, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, told CNN, "There is a lot of diversity in the Democratic party. None of us were elected by Barack Obama. We don't represent the president, we represent our states."

The group's concerns virtually assure that the president's spending agenda will fall substantially short of filibuster-proof support in the Senate, which is why Obama traveled to Capitol Hill to state his case for his budget to Senate Democrats.

Analyst Norm Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute told CNN, "There are large numbers who are moderate, centrists, even a little bit conservative who are not going to let some sweeping, very liberal policy go through the Senate. There aren't sixty. And in fact, moderate Democrats provide
the kind of bridge required to get a significant number of Republicans over to make some of these major areas of policy."

The senators who signed the letter were: Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana; Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas; Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas; Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin; Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana; Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri; Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. Sen. Joe Lieberman, formerly a Democrat and now an Independent from Connecticut, also signed the letter.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    Duh, what a enlightening. What negotiator – which is what President Obama has to be, gets everything thing they are seeking on the first iteration? Hello, aren't elected officials in Washington to work through legislation/ issues? Isn't that what they are there for? No, they are there to be re-elected...sorry I forgot for a minute.

    March 25, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  2. kevin

    Surprise surprise its not just the Republicans that want Americans sick, dumb and using fossil fuels.

    Now why would anyone want that? No ones does except for the heathcare, private schools and energy companies.

    These companies are scared of losing billions of dollars which has been soaked out of Americans for the last 30 years.

    These are the people that ave been paid off by these companies.

    March 25, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Stop Printing Money

    Thanks God, Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, finally Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana; Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Arkansas; Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas; Sen. Kay Hagan, D-North Carolina; Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin; Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana; Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri; Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. Sen. Joe Lieberman, FINALLY HAVE REALIZED THAT OBAMA'S BIGGEST BUDGET PLAN WOULD LEAD AMERICA GO TO BANKRUPCY. We should vote for above senators or rep. in 2010 & 2012.

    March 25, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    You should. #44 is not a democrat. He's a socialist!

    March 25, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. lil

    Democrates need to stick together.

    March 25, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Centrist Dems express concerns on Obama's budget plan"

    Let's call it like it is: "Centrist Dems elected in traditionally red areas express concern about their re-election chances if they don't express concerns with Obama's budget plans before signing off on them" hehe 🙂

    March 25, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  7. Lesley Anne

    When they say medicare and medicaid and focus on the economy, they are missing the point that health care reform is a big part of that. The private sector of the health care industry has been soaking the economy by overbilling and that's what Obama is fighting against. There are billions of dollars in fraud in other areas of the government (like the Missile Defense Agency if you'd care to read an article about that in the Huff Post today, and other government agencies that waste billions of taxpayer dollars) that could be eliminated to pay for much of Obama's expanded agenda. But what do these narrow minded conservatives do - focus on their own pet peeves. That will do nothing to grow the economy and sustain it over the long haul. They are stifling the economy, not growing it. Representing their states sounds more like protecting their own jobs with an election looming next year.

    March 25, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. In Houston, TX

    GOP, please don't get too excited. The Dems are not falling a part. This is our modus operandi, this is what we do. The Democrats are never 100% on anything. That's how Republicans would always beat us. there is dissention in our party. We often disagree with one another. There is in fighting. We don't cover for one another if a scandal should arise. This party will quickly throw another party member to the wolves and under a bus. Democrat cand and quite often will speak ill of a fellow Democrat. these party principals can cause us to lose an election. And I still wouldn't have it any other way. God bless my party

    March 25, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. FreeNLovIt

    If Obie will just feed the trillionaire men, he will instantly be loved, but he's decided to feed the poor and the helpless. We all need to shut up and let the Nobel Prize economists, fight it out to get the best plan.

    March 25, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Carl

    To those loyal to a party, you are the problem.

    March 25, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Simmy

    These are they who didn't get a position in the Obama Administration. How turn-coatist of them. They are Blue Republicans. Why did they wait for the Black Democratic leader to come on the scene to flex their muscles? We could have used such opposition when Bush was in charge.

    March 25, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. Penn Voter

    Centrist Good, Extreme Left or Right Bad!

    March 25, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  13. rick,alabama

    Everyone acts like the their should be results overnite.It took the republicans 8 years to bankrupt america and sell out our manufacturing base.Ity will take years to rebuild once the fire is out.Anyone who wants Obama's plan ,which is to save America,to fail has the right to speak their mind and obviously from their policies they have ruined this country.So they bankrupted this country and want Obama's recovery plan to fail.How un-american can you get.Party first.

    March 25, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |