In a memo sent to fellow Republicans, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama outlines how he plans to change the terms of the budget debate with Democrats. The memo outlines how the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee plans to bring the fight directly to Democrats.
Sessions is, in his words, is planning a response to the Democrats' "slander" on budget issues. That is, he does not believe it is accurate to say, as Democrats do, that Republicans don't care about the poor and don't care about "the most vunerable Americans." As Sessions writes, "The White House has succeeded to an alarming degree in framing the fiscal debate as a choice between fiscal restraint and compassion. Reductions in government are, in the White House narrative, inherently harmful; therefore, any approach that mitigates spending cuts through tax hikes is always the morally preferable approach."
Sessions is vowing "not to let these slanders go unanswered." Instead, he plans to argue that the Democrats' massive spending increases have not achieved the intended good results.
"More people are living in poverty, wages are flat, millions have completely exited the labor force, and fraud and abuse remain rampant. We will make the case that the time has come for another 1996-style welfare reform that reduces poverty, strengthens family, and helps more Americans transition from dependency to self-sufficiency. This is not merely a financial imperative; it is a moral imperative. No longer can we measure compassion by how much we spend on poverty, but how many people we help to rise out of poverty. Adding endlessly to the debt is not compassionate—it is destructive," Sessions writes.
And the senator from Alabama lists some ways to respond to the Democrats' "slander."
"[Y]our policies are creating poverty, dependency, and chronic unemployment," he says he will tell Democrats. "Your policies are responsible for lost wages and lost jobs. Your policies have denied people access to quality health care. Your policies have shut down factories, surged energy costs, and brought economic growth to a standstill. And your policies are responsible for a nearing debt crisis that threatens each and every American family."
Sessions believes he will be able to offer a "bold contrast." "The budget process, carried out in the open light of day, is an opportunity to provide the nation with a bold contrast. The Majority offers a bleak future where millions of Americans are left behind, unable to find steady work, and where faceless government gradually erodes the human bonds of family and community. This will be contrasted against a confident vision of growth and opportunity where the central bonds in our lives are not with the government but with each other," he writes.
"Our policies are rooted in our firm belief free people thrive most when a minimum burden is placed upon them. By capturing that spirit, and by defending working Americans from the surging federal colossus, our ideas will carry the day."
Here's the full memo:
Memo On FY14 Budget Process
February 11, 2013
To: Republican Members
From: Ranking Member Jeff Sessions
Senate Democrats, bowing to Republican pressure, have announced that they will finally relent and produce a budget this year as the law requires.
This week Chairman Murray is holding a hearing entitled “The Impact of Federal Budget Decisions on Families and Communities,” in which we expect her to portray the fiscal debate in stark moral terms. She will describe Republicans as the enemy of the working class and the protectors of the rich. We can expect this to be Democrats’ theme throughout the budget season. It is the narrative around which President Obama has framed virtually every fiscal debate and his own reelection campaign. He will no doubt repeat this fiction during his State of the Union address.
In her speech at Brookings last year, Chairman Murray declared that “I will not agree to a deal that throws middle class families under the bus and forces them to bear this burden alone. Unless Republicans end their commitment to protecting the rich above all else, our country is going to have to face the consequences of Republican intransigence… They pay lip-service to deficit reduction, but what they actually seem to be concerned about is cutting taxes for the rich and starving programs that help middle class families and the most vulnerable Americans.”