PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, introduced a federal spending plan Wednesday he hopes will provide the framework for a long-term solution to the country’s serial budget crises.
The initial proposal — which King delivered to Congress’ budget conference committee — would dial back across-the-board spending cuts more widely known as sequestration, and pay for the restored expenditures by closing what the senator’s office described as corporate tax loopholes.
King is calling the strategy the “Grande Plan,” after the coffee shop chain Starbucks’ middle-sized cup. In a Wednesday evening news release, King’s office called the proposal “a middle-of-the-road, compromise plan.”
King, an independent who caucuses with Senate Democrats, was one of 29 U.S. lawmakers — 22 from the Senate, seven from the House — appointed to a special bipartisan, bicameral committee charged with developing a long-term federal budget plan by Dec. 15.
That committee was formed as a result of legislation passed last month to temporarily end an unpopular 16-day government shutdown, the latest round of political brinksmanship in what has become multiple years of regular standoffs between Republicans and Democrats over federal spending.
In March, $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration took effect after Congress could not reach agreement on an alternative spending plan by the deadline set in a previous last-moment budget deal. The sequester cuts and a schedule for future mandated cuts remain in place.
“As members of the budget conference committee, we not only have a tremendous opportunity, but an obligation, to work together to reach a budget agreement that sets our country on a path to fiscal stability. For far too long, Congress has acted irresponsibly with its budgeting process. It’s time that we actually put together a plan that will instill certainty and confidence into our economy and show the American people we can still govern,” King said in a statement Wednesday.
“The proposal I introduced today will most likely not be the final answer, but with only a month to go before the committee reaches its deadline, my plan is intended to be a contribution to the discussion that will be taking place over the next several weeks,” he said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee, hearing their thoughts and finding a path forward.”
King’s plan reduces the annual sequestration cuts over the next eight years by about half, and proposes to pay for the restored spending by closing $255 billion worth of what he called corporate tax loopholes and generating another $200 billion in savings through reforms of entitlement programs.
Examples of entitlement programs include Social Security, food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid, although King’s announcement did not specify what programs he proposes to reform or how.
King’s plan also includes reducing the overall corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 32.5 percent and setting aside another $50 billion from the additional revenue for investments in infrastructure.