VOL. 133 | NO. 182 | Thursday, September 13, 2018
Bredesen, Blackburn Differ on Plans to Deal With Federal Budget
Special to The Daily News
U.S. Senate candidates, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and former Gov. Phil Bredesen, are proposing two very different paths to rein in the nation’s budget deficit and $21.4 trillion national debt.
Bredesen, a two-term Tennessee governor and two-term Nashville mayor, issued a plan Tuesday, Sept. 11, to hold the line on spending increases to let revenue catch up with the nation’s annual $800 billion-plus deficit.
Blackburn, a Republican member of Congress for 16 years, is calling for a balanced budget amendment and across-the-board spending reductions, except for the military, as well as further tax reform.
The two are squared off in a tight race to replace Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in the Nov. 6 election, the outcome of which could swing control of the Senate to Democrats.
“Tennesseans are tired of Washington wastefully spending their money, and it’s just another reason the Senate is broken,” Blackburn said in a budget plan released Tuesday. “I’m a committed fiscal conservative. Beginning with my time as a state senator – where I led the opposition to the state income tax – to my time in the House, I’ve been a deficit hawk and I plan to take that same steely commitment to the U.S. Senate.”
A balanced budget amendment, which would mirror Tennessee’s constitutional requirement, would have to be approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate and ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Blackburn, a Brentwood resident, would make the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent, citing 4 percent growth of the economy and sustained low unemployment.
Saying the tax cuts passed this year were not “crumbs,” Blackburn says Congress should look into more tax reductions for the middle-class and small businesses.
Blackburn said trust funds such as Social Security and Medicare, both of which are in danger of running out of money within 20 and 10 years, respectively, need to be “stabilized” for younger generations through the review of eligibility requirements.
Bredesen, meanwhile, released a plan in Chattanooga to balance the federal budget within six years, mainly by freezing spending at $3.316 trillion so annual revenue, at a growth rate of 5.15 percent, could catch up. The spending plan would not affect Social Security.
“This means that if President Trump wants to balance the budget, he can get it done within his time in office if he has a second term,” Bredesen said in a speech to the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. “This is not some faraway, lofty goal.”
Congress and federal departments would need to work together to meet those spending targets, much the way Tennessee balances its budget, said Bredesen, noting his administration balanced eight budgets despite a $300 million shortfall when he took the governor’s office and a recession.
Bredesen’s campaign pointed out the national debt has increased more than 240 percent to $21 trillion while the annual federal deficit doubled to more than $800 million during Blackburn’s 16 years in Congress.
“Where we are now is becoming dangerous. We will be a stronger, more powerful, safer country if we get back to operating within our means,” Bredesen said.