Wyoming U.S. Sen. Enzi pushes three bills to avoid another budget crisis

2013-10-22T07:00:00Z 2013-11-13T19:40:09Z Wyoming U.S. Sen. Enzi pushes three bills to avoid another budget crisisBy KYLE ROERINK Star-Tirbune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

Sen. Mike Enzi says he has a plan to make sure the recent budget crisis in Washington won’t repeat itself in the coming months after Congress etched out a short-term solution last week.

With congressional appropriations set to dry once again on Jan. 15 and the nation’s borrowing limit to hit the debt ceiling by early February, the potential for a repeat standoff between Republicans and Democrats has the nation wondering if both chambers can work out a deal to prevent another fiasco in the U.S. Capitol.

Enzi has been lobbying peers in the Senate to support his three pieces of legislation. They Wyoming Republican says the legislation would strive to balance the budget, change the annual budgeting cycle and mandate spending cuts if lawmakers can’t pass the 12 annual spending bills that comprise the federal budget.

In the past 40 years, Congress has passed only four full-length federal budgets before the scheduled deadline of Sept. 30. The drama and the brinksmanship haven’t proved successful for either party in the polls and have many Americans distraught with less than a year remaining before the next election.

The agenda is a full plate for Enzi and a chance to show off some political muscle as he faces a 2014 GOP primary challenge from Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

His strongest card in the game to prevent another crisis is legislation he’s been touting for years: The so-called penny plan.

The legislation gives Congress the authority to cut one cent from every dollar the

nation spends. Discretionary spending and mandatory spending programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid could all be subject to cuts, but the draft form of the law doesn’t specifically outline what has to go.

The worst would go first, said Dan Head, spokesman for Enzi.

In addition to the cuts imposed March 1 by sequestration, the penny plan would balance the budget in two years, Enzi said Monday. If it were to stay in place, the money saved by the plan would start to pay off the

$17 trillion debt, he said.

“It will probably have to be named something different for people to be able to claim it was their idea,” he said. “It will have to be some variation of that so we can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The variation to the original bill is likely to require tax increases on behalf of the Democrats, said Andrew Garner, assistant professor of political science at the University of Wyoming.

“I am skeptical that a spending cut approach by itself will solve the problem,” he said.

The plan is on par with Enzi’s no vote last week on the bill that ended the shutdown and increased the government’s ability to borrow more money.

Some political observers questioned whether Enzi voted no as a way to prevent Cheney from using it as fodder on the campaign trail.

Enzi said next year’s election had no influence on his vote.

“I am not interested in raising the debt limit,” he said.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., also cast a no vote on the bill that ended the crisis. She said Enzi has the right idea about addressing the nation’s debt.

“All options should be laid on the table when it comes to reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending,” she said in an email. “We cannot afford to continue kicking the can down the road.”

The idea to impose 1 percent cuts to any of the 12 appropriation bills not passed by the Sept. 30 deadline would offer lawmakers incentive to not wait until the last minute, Enzi said. Additionally, for every 90 days Congress doesn’t pass the spending bill, another 1 percent is cut.

The current system allows lawmakers to pass short-term bills that don’t make any changes in spending. An impasse over a short-term bill is what led to the partial federal government shutdown on Oct. 1, Enzi said.

Anything that can put pressure on Congress to pass a budget in a timely manner is a good thing, Garner said.

“With the politics, I am a little skeptical it is something that could pass the Democratic Senate,” he said.

The third piece of legislation Enzi is pushing would make the budgeting process a two-year project that would look similar to the way lawmakers in Wyoming do appropriations, the senator said.

It would give federal agencies more time to prepare for the upcoming years and would offer lawmakers more time to legislate rather than make last-minute deals, Enzi said.

“It’s a very interesting proposal, and I can see some receptivity to it,” Garner said. “I think there’s a general sense that people are tired of the brinksmanship and 11th-hour deals, and there’ s probably more receptivity to working the budget in a way that would minimize the drama.”

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. side oiler
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    side oiler - October 22, 2013 12:57 pm
    Kind of reminds one of the Kings and Queens of old Europe when they had it all and the rest were **** ants. Now rich bigots and their corporations have it all and we are all the **** ants.Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
  2. Energy Voter
    Report Abuse
    Energy Voter - October 22, 2013 11:41 am
    Perhaps you are not old enough to remember that "The Virginian" was a terrific TV western about a Civl War veteran who settled in Wyoming to ranch. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Virginian_(TV_series)

    Most voters in Wyoming are old enough to know about that show, and indeed remember it.
  3. Morning Joe
    Report Abuse
    Morning Joe - October 22, 2013 10:48 am
    "Enzi has a plan..." ??? Sounds like the one-percent spending reduction act of 2011. I can't wait to see how the Virginian spins this story.

    The Penny Plan was conceived by Georgia businessman Bruce Cook. Sen. Rand Paul resurrected the idea during his response on behalf of the Tea Party to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. Visit this site for plan details: http://www.onecentsolution.org/the-one-cent-solution/

    This link will take you the actual bill which was introduced in 2011. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.1848:
  4. Completely Fed Up
    Report Abuse
    Completely Fed Up - October 22, 2013 10:43 am
    This dimwit comes up with "ideas" that are not new and that are ridiculous. If he really wanted to cut spending and whatnot, he would call for a massive reduction in military spending ... enough to prevent the thugs in charge from inflicting any more death and destruction on people around the world whose resources our corporations want to steal. Enzi, like the other two who "represent" this state, serves wealth, and wealth alone. It doesn't speak well for the intelligence of the state that he, and they, get reelected by vast majorities every time they run, no matter how crummy a job they do for common folks. And then, you have the nutcase running "against" him -- just more of the same, only shriller.
  5. Pops
    Report Abuse
    Pops - October 22, 2013 10:22 am
    Insulting political tokenism. Mike, did you find this in your dream catcher? You will get nominated. You appear to be working hard enough to be reelected in our "Cowboy Kingdom."
  6. QB14
    Report Abuse
    QB14 - October 22, 2013 9:15 am
    I'm sorry, but there is ZERO chance, and yes I mean ZERO, that the penny plan bill will pass in the coming months, much less in the coming year. Again, any Senator can propose any bill he wants for PR purposes, but if it won't pass it means nothing. We already have the sequester -- which was a mandatory reduction in spending across the board. Hopefully we can refine and increase these reductions (while alleviating some of the pressure on Defense), but this penny plan idea -- as good as it may sound in concept -- has never gotten traction before and certainly won't now. Indeed, the notion of the penny plan is not new -- many others have proposed very simlar ideas over the years. It took the sequester showdown to get the general idea to work.

    The two year appropriations cycle idea has some theoretical possibility of passing some day, but not in the coming months.

    I don't mean to be derisive, but our Senator should be involved in seeking real solutions to our enormous debt problem.
  7. jackel
    Report Abuse
    jackel - October 22, 2013 8:33 am
    Amazing that after all this trouble it only takes a penny and in two years we balance the budget. Sounds like the Shell game with penny under the shell and who put the choice down usually comes up; empty.
    I don't say Enzi's idea it won't work, but why was the penny not on the table, when the budget crisis began. If he'd been working on it for a couple of years the plan should have had some crediablity to be heard at least.
    In the terms the Senator has had and voyages of budget crisis this plan now surfaces. He should have brought this up each year in his terms, if he felt that strongly.
    Granted it is an idea at election time, but you know something America, I would like to have not the hope chest of the past, or a professor discussing his plan. I would like a repersententive who will do the job, enough of these promises before the elections. Notice it was postponed till January, and if they pass a budget, they all look good on the campagain billboards
  8. N3crix
    Report Abuse
    N3crix - October 22, 2013 8:25 am
    Enzi last night on the news stated that hes' Always been an eternal optimist in life" , yet in the same interview moments later stated he's never had hope for Obamacare working. Id say this is quite a hypocritical statement wouldnt you?
  9. pappy
    Report Abuse
    pappy - October 22, 2013 7:51 am
    It's amazing how they sit back there for 5 years doing nothing and then boom they are all over the news paper!!!! to bad there isn't someone decent to run against him.
  10. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - October 22, 2013 7:25 am
    Enzi's mug has been on the front page more in the last six months than in the last 6 years. The shoe biz must be a little slow.

    To little to late .....it is about time to send Enzi home.

    Enzi needs to be sent home so he can learn how to market his shoe shops on the internet.
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