Jordan Fenster / CTNewsJunkie
Sen. Blumenthal during a press conference at the capitol in Hartford (Jordan Fenster / CTNewsJunkie)

Arguing that the Republican-proposed budget targets the middle class, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., stopped by Connecticut’s capitol Monday to decry what he said was a “disingenuous and deceptive” federal funding plan that “engages in gimmicks and magic asterisks.”

According to Blumenthal, the GOP itself is “far” from unanimous, with disagreements within the party brewing over defense spending, automatic budget cuts called sequestration, and deficit mitigation.

“The Republican party is divided,” he said. “There are the deficit hawks who want to slash completely government spending and preserve the sequester that has done such damage over the past few years, and there are the defense hawks who want to raise defense spending and eliminate the sequester.”

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That difference in ideology within the party in power is something minority Democrats are hoping to exploit.

“There are divisions within the Republican Party. They are far from united,” Blumenthal said. “We have an opportunity to use our unanimity in favor of restoring education cuts, making sure that middle class investments are protected, rail safety and reliability — all those priorities for Connecticut.”

Blumenthal is far from the only Democratic lawmaker to argue against the GOP budget proposal. Last week, the White House released a “fact sheet” on the budget that details proposed cuts to Head Start, Title I, housing choice vouchers, and the Affordable Health Care Act, among other programs.

Congressional Democrats are responding with amendments to the budget intended to preserve those programs.

“This budget would be a disaster for Connecticut’s middle class families and our middle class as it would be for all Americans,” Blumenthal said. “Beginning today I will be spearheading a series of amendments that will attempt to counter a Republican budget that basically slashes and guts investments in middle class families.”

His first amendment will be a proposal to provide $478 million for railways, roads, and other Connecticut infrastructure intended to “restore the cuts contemplated by the Republican budget.”

When asked if the budget was gamesmanship, a bargaining tactic perhaps more intended to stake an ideological claim than to actually fund the federal government, Blumenthal said the that Republican proposals were more than just concepts.

“They’re part of a resolution that will frame and constrain actions going forward, particularly when it comes to veterans and similar kinds of programs, these proposals will have serious, lasting effect,” he said.

House Democrats Propose
Tax Cuts for Senior Citizens

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways & Means Committee, among them U.S. Rep. John Larson, introduced a bill last week intended to preserve Social Security, increase benefits and cut taxes for senior citizens.

The so-called “Social Security 2100 Act,” H.R. 1391, would effectively cut taxes by raising the threshold on taxation of benefits, raise the minimum benefit from below the poverty line to 25 percent above, allowing more individuals to take advantage of Social Security benefits, and offer increased benefits for future beneficiaries.

“Social Security remains the nation’s bedrock retirement program and provides vital protection for the disabled and those who have lost a loved one,” Larson said in a release. “Many Americans, however, do not believe it will be there for them when they retire. I am proud to announce a common sense path forward today that, not only strengthens benefits now, but ensures Social Security will be here through the next century.”

The proposal was announced last week in a press conference held in Washington.

Cosponsors of the proposed measure include Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District.

“I’ve heard from seniors throughout central and northwest Connecticut who rely on Social Security to make ends meet,” Esty said in a release. “Congress has a responsibility to protect and strengthen this lifeline program that seniors have earned through hard work. I’m proud to join my friend and colleague Congressman Larson in introducing the Social Security 2100 Act, which will rightfully increase benefits for current seniors and keep Social Security strong for our children and grandchildren.”

Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.

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