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Spin Control

Posts tagged: u.s. senate

Today’s fun video: Senate D’s do up budget stalemate

At some point, you've probably seen “I'm Just a Bill”, a video that tries to explain to kids how a bill becomes law.

U.S. Senate Democrats have a new take on the old theme called “I'm Just a Budget” that tries to skewer Republicans for keeping the budget from going to conference. Graphics are about the same as the original, which is to say not phenomenal by 2013 standards.

It shares one other trait with the original. It's pretty simplistic. But among it's co-stars is Washington Sen. Patty Murray.

Murray announces Senate budget hearings

WASHINGTON — The first official steps toward passing a Senate budget will be taken next week, Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray said today.

The Democratic senior senator from Washington announced two sessions scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13. Murray has vowed, amid rebukes from House Republicans about the four-year absence of a Senate spending plan, to pass a budget resolution this spring. The legal deadline to bring a resolution to the Senate floor for approval is April 1.

The 22-member committee, which also includes Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, will first hear from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf. Elmendorf will answer questions about the nonpartisan group’s Budget and Economic Outlook report released Tuesday.

That report projected a shrinking deficit in 2013, falling to around $845 billion from more than $1 trillion in 2012. That would make 2013’s deficit near 5 percent of GDP, its lowest level since President Barack Obama entered office. However, the report predicts rising deficits over the next decade due to “the pressures of an aging population, rising health care costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on federal debt.”

In response to the report’s findings, Murray reaffirmed her commitment to protect certain spending programs and explore revenue-increasing measures.

“We need to continue working to cut spending responsibly, protect and strengthen programs like Medicare, and raise revenue by closing tax loopholes that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations take advantage of,” Murray said in a statement.

On Feb. 13, the committee is expected to hear from representatives of the public testifying on how federal budget decisions affect them. Murray has stressed her commitment to involving public input in the resolution drafting process, which has included soliciting their suggestions on the committee’s website through a program called “MyBudget.”

Senate Democrats are in Annapolis, Md., for a legislative retreat that is expected to last through Wednesday. Budget issues will likely be on the table among a number of fiscal policy issues, including deep spending cuts to defense and discretionary programs set to kick in next month.

Murray announced the hearings via Twitter with the comment, “Looking fwd to getting to work!”

Murray to Dems: Don’t give up on more “revenue”

The Washington Post has posted a 12-page memo from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray outlining her positions on writing a budget for 2014.

Murray, D-Wash., argues that deficit reduction has so far focused almost entirely on cuts and not enough on “revenue” — tax increases.

“We need to make sure any budget deal we make is balanced, fair for the middle class, and calls on the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,” Murray wrote in her letter introcuding the memo.

Murray, who was in Spokane last week highlighting job programs, is the new chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee.

The memo and Ezra Klein's analysis is worth a glance and is a good outline for the Democrats' position and interal battles in the upcoming budget showdown brewing in Congress.

Today’s fun video: When filibuster shoe was on the Democratic foot

Senate Democrats may decry the filibuster now, but in 2005, when they were in the minority, they were all for it. 

Note the young guy speaking in favor of it at the start. Sen. Patty Murray shows up about 1:40 in.

Murray to lead Senate Budget Committee

Patty Murray will be the Senate's chief budget writer next year when Congress convenes for its new session.

The Washington Democrat announced today she will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, a position that will become open at the end of the year with the retirement of Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota. Although the position won't become official until the new Congress meets, Democrats will hold a 55-45 majority in the chamber so the result is a foregone conclusion.

The committee also considers the nation's economic policy and the budgetary impact of “everything we do and everything wie fight on,” Murray said. She hopes to expand the discussions of the committee, which in recent years have focused on debt and deficits, to consider the other side of the budget: the nation's spending priorities and the investments it should make.

“It gives me a really good place to fight for the priorities of Washington state,” she said, such as the cleanup of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, better transportation systems, military and veterans issues and improved job training for health care and aerospace workers.

To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog.

Baumgartner ‘officially’ in Senate race

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner made his “official” announcement today that he's running against Maria Cantwell next year.

If that sounds familiar, it's because he was on television Friday evening, and in this newspaper Saturday morning, saying he'd run. That may have seemed pretty official to most folks.

Baumgartner previously said he'd make an announcement today, but did an interview with KING-TV on Friday for that station's weekend public affairs show. He said he was running with cameras running; KING and its Spokane sister station KREM had it at 5 p.m. Friday, and KXLY had a brief mention by 5:30 p.m. Generally speaking, The Spokesman-Review does a single story about a candidate's announcement and  will wait for an “official” announcement that we know is coming as long as the candidate doesn't make some other kind of public pronouncement. When that happens, as it did in this case, we posted  Friday and published  Saturday that we would have posted today and published tomorrow.

So let's call today the official unveiling of his campaign website and the unveiling of the obligatory campaign video on YouTube. And there's nothing more official for a campaign than having a web site and a video, no?

Well, nothing except maybe drawing a first strike from the opposing party. State Democrats were quick to brand Baumgartner as a far-right extremist for signing the 2010 Spokane County Republican platform which calls for such things as withdrawing from the United Nations, eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, returning to the gold standard and repealing the Endangered Species Act.

Baumgartner did sign the platform, but said it has about 120 planks; he agrees with some but has spoken out against others, such as withdrawing from the UN.

Expect the platform to come up on a regular basis as Baumgartner tries to get some name identification on the West Side.

Baumgartner to run for the other Senate?

Sen. Mike Baumgartner at his desk on the Senate floor this spring. File photo.

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane is being discussed for the political equivalent of an upgrade, as a candidate for U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell.

Baumgartner said Wednesday evening he's “taking a strong look at it” after being urged to get into the race by some supporters. He said he and wife Elinore will make a decision “in the next few weeks.”

It would be a big jump for Baumgartner…

To read the rest of this item, click to go inside the blog.

Murray expected to lead campaign group

Sen. Patty Murray will be announced as the new chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee later today, sources in the other Washington are saying this morning.

Roll Call, a newspaper and website that covers almost every move in Congress, says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to make the announcement this afternoon. Murray’s office is saying officiallly only that an announcement is coming around noon Pacific time..

But Murray has been under pressure to take the job as the head of the committee working to elect more Democrats to the Senate, or at least make sure fewer Democrats get un-elected to the Senate. Democats have 23 seats to defend in 2012.

Murray had the job for the 2002 campaign cycle.

How close for recount?

The tight race for U.S. Senate would have to get noticeably tighter to trigger a mandatory recount.

Although tens of thousands of ballots have yet to be counted statewide, including more than 100,000 in King County alone, incumbent Democrat Patty Murray’s current lead over Republican challenger Dino Rossi (722,396 to 708,391 as of the latest election night tabulation) is beyond the one half of 1 percent margin that would trigger a mandantory machine recount under state law.

A machine recount also can triggered in statewide races if the the margin between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes. A mandatory hand recount is conducted if the margin falls below 1,000 votes and one quarter of 1 percent of total ballots cast.

The state Elections Division has a fact sheet on recounts that can be found at this link.

Playing the lower expectations game

Democrats in the other Washington are already trying to lower expectations for the kind of votes  incumbent Sen. Patty Murray will pull down on Tuesday, and raise expectations for Republican Dino Rossi.

A press release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are contending that Rossi should outpoll Murray in the primary, but not to worry, she’ll win in November. Rossi got 46.35 percent of the primary vote in 2008 when he ran the second time for governor and “we expect him to earn at least that much in tomorrow’s primary,” the campaign committee’s exec director JB Poersch said earlier today. That plus Murray only got 45.9 percent in the 1998 primary, but went on to win the general by 16 percentage points.

This is an interesting example of using selective data to bolster a really bad argument by people who clearly don’t know very much about Washington primaries.

We explain, inside the blog

FMAP vote delayed until Wednesday

The U.S. Senate was poised to give Washington and other states a hint today at whether they should keep counting on extra Medicaid money. That could have signaled whether Gov. Chris Gregoire would be calling a special session to handle an expected budget shortfall.

But the vote on a special amendment on Federal Medical Assistance Percentages was delayed until at least Wednesday.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray was going to sponsor the amendment and speak on it Monday afternoon, but Majority Leader Harry Reid bumped it back two days on the calendar. A spokesman for Murray said they are double checking figures that explain how the money will be paid for without adding to the deficit, which Republicans are demanding. They’ll also be using the time  to try to round up  more votes.

Even if the amendment gets introduced, gets killed by a filibuster or doesn’t pass the Senate, that may be the last shot the Senate will take before going on its August recess. Gregoire will have to decide — special session or across the board cuts.

If it survives any attempt to filibuster it to death and passes the Senate, there’s another small problem: The House of Representatives is on recess until September. They could be called back for a vote, but then again, they’re pretty busy doing the things reps do when not in the other Washington…like running for re-election.

Washington needs the FMAP to fill in a projected budget gap and provide an ending fund balance to move into the 2011-12 biennium. Gregoire said she hoped to decide this week about a special session.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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