Here is where members of the new joint House-Senate deficit reduction committee stand on key spending and tax issues:
SEN. PATTY MURRAY, D-WASH.
• A senior member of Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense.
• Fought for increased defense spending, including funding for medical research and medical care and mental health.
• Opposes reduction in Social Security retirement benefits. Supported legislation to eliminate the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provisions to ensure all federal employees and retirees receive their full pay and benefits.
• Supported legislation to protect Social Security cost-of-living adjustments.
• Supported “Doc Fix” to prevent cuts in Medicare physician payment cuts.
• Favors replacing current Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula with a system that more accurately reflects practice costs and quality of care.
• Introduced the MediFair Act, which would ensure that no state receives less than the national average of Medicare reimbursement rates.
• Supported legislation that would provide for fair prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
• Voted for an amendment to extend federal Medicaid match money to the states.
• Opposes arbitrary cuts and caps to Medicaid.
• Supported the enactment of the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit in April 2008 and its extension in July 2009.
• Favors tax incentives for community development and for small businesses that are bringing on new employees.
• Supported tax credits for research and development in clean energy technology.
• Voted for largest middle class tax cut in history while opposing tax cuts for upper income Americans.
SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D-MONT.
• Supported the Senate’s version of the debt ceiling legislation that would have cut nearly $3 trillion over the coming decade, including $1.2 trillion in discretionary defense and domestic spending.
• Chief advocate of Obama’s health care reform legislation to strengthen Medicare by increasing benefits, extending the life of the program, and rooting out fraud, waste and abuse.
• Said he would only go along with additional Medicare cuts if Republicans agreed to raise tax revenue to help reduce the deficit.
• Favors measures to strengthen Medicaid to provide a safety net of health and long-term care services for future generations of low income Americans and children.
• Considered “blended” payment rates for Medicaid, which would have consolidated Medicaid payments to states.
• Favors putting off reforms of Social Security for another year or two, saying the retirement program’s finances are not facing serious immediate problems. Fought to keep Social Security off the bargaining table during the recent debt ceiling negotiations.
• Chairman of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee
• Favors simplifying the federal tax code to increase compliance rates and help to tclose the gap between spending and revenues.
• Played a key role in the passage of the Bush-era tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, and President Bush’s expansion of Medicare benefits to include prescription drug coverage.
• Favors permanently extending the Bush tax-era cuts for the middle class.
• Prefers funding health care reform by taxing individuals’ health benefits instead of phasing out tax deductions for the richest Americans.
SEN. JOHN F. KERRY, D-MASS.
• Favors a simplified tax code that rewards the middle class with tax breaks and closes corporate loopholes.
• Supported the Bush-era tax cut for the middle class, and pledged not to raise taxes on families earning less than $200,000 a year.
• Criticized conservative House Republicans for opposing any revenue increases as part of a debt deal.
• Voted in favor of extending the the the Bush tax cuts for all Americans.
• Long time defender of Medicare spending for seniors.
• Voted for the Medicare Part D amendment providing prescription drug coverage.
• Voted in favor of providing additional aid to states for Medicaid.
• Wrote the bill that became the foundation of f the 1997 State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
• Favored taxing some Social Security benefits to help fund Medicare.
• Opposed proposals for privatizing Social Security and reducing benefits.
• Supported over $4 trillion in defense funding and has supported virtually every successful weapons system in use by today’s military.
• In 2002, Kerry voted for the largest increase in defense spending since the 1980s.
SEN. JON KYL, R-ARIZ.
• Favors privatizing Medicare and supported Ryan’s plan for converting it to a voucher.
• Strongly criticized Obama’s health care reform legislation and claims it is “gutting” Medicare by “raiding Medicare of over half a trillion dollars to pay for a new premium subsidy program that has nothing to do with Medicare.”
• Accused Obama’s health care law of “dumping” undue burdens on states by prohibiting states from reducing their Medicaid eligibility standards and allowing more people to qualify for it.”
• Favors a major overhaul of Medicaid.
• Co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., to keep the Social Security trust fund solvent for 75 years by raising the full retirement age gradually and offering less generous benefits to future retirees by cutting cost-of-living adjustments to a measure of inflation minus 1 percentage point.
• Argues that any tax increase would stifle job creation.
• Stood firm by Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s side during the debt ceiling negotiations on his refusal to accept tax increases.
• Favors corporate and individual tax reform.
• Supported decision to extend the Bush tax cuts beyond December, 2010
• Defense spending as part of the debt limit deal “irresponsible,” even though he did vote for the final bill.
• Strong advocate for spending on strategic missile defense and nuclear programs
• Helped block the Obama administration’s attempts to pass a nuclear arms treaty with Russia last year.
SEN. ROBERT PORTMAN, R-OHIO
Medicare and Medicaid
• Voted for Ryan’s plan to convert Medicare to a voucher program. - Wants to “create more incentives for choice and more competition,” in the Medicare program.
• Called for cracking down on
• Favors reforming Medicare and Medicaid to help reduce the deficit long term.
• One of five Republican senators who declined to sign a letter drafted by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, aimed at blocking the appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to serve as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
• Favors raising the Social Security retirement age.
• Disputes the contention of the Obama administration and other Democrats that Social Security doesn’t adversely impact the deficit.
• Introduced a bill to cut employers’ share of payroll taxes by 2 percentage points for a year.
• Says that tax reform is central to generating more revenue for the government and spurring economic growth.
• Cosponsored legislation to permanently reduce tax rates for lower-income families.
• Wants to increase IRS accountability.
• Favors eliminating the estate tax.
• Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
• Favors putting defense spending on the table as part of a deficit reduction deal.
• Advocates a thorough review of the Department of Defense.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY, R-PA.
• Favors Paul Ryan’s plan for turning Medicare into a voucher-based program that would allow citizens to use government stipends to then purchase their own private health insurance.
• Though he voted for Ryan’s plan, he proposed his own as well which the Senate rejected. This plan would have reduced payments to hospitals , nursing homes, and other providers.
• Favors converting Medicaid to a block grant program.
• Argued in his book “The Road to Prosperity” in favor of privatizing the program to allow young workers to divert part of their Social Security payroll tax into private savings accounts.
• Favors closing "special-interest tax loopholes" to make government more “pro-growth.”
• Recently voted to eliminate ethanol subsidies.
• Strongly advocates lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate.
• Wants to repeal the estate tax.
• Favors corporate and individual tax reform.
• Says defense cuts should be on the table as part of deficit reduction.
• Is a member of the U.S. Senate National Guard Caucus.
• Supports increasing funding for the strategic missile defense program.
REP. JEB HENSARLING, R-TEXAS
Medicare and Medicaid
• Cosponsored Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future Act, which called for a broad reforms and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
• Called Social Security a “cruel Ponzi scheme” that will go bankrupt.
• Favors making defense cuts part of any major deficit reduction plan.
• Co-sponsored the Taxpayer Choice Act, which would create a simplified two-tiered individual tax structure and permanently repeals the alternative minimum tax.
• Supports permanent family and small business tax incentives.
• Co-sponsored legislation to enact a constitutional balanced budget amendment.
• Supports extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans.
REP. DAVE CAMP, R-MICH.
• Said everything has to be on the table, including defense spending in order to reduce spending.
• Chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee
• Favors a major overhaul of the federal tax code.
• Supports extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans.
• Supports lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
• Supports not changing the benefit structure for those now or near to retirement.
• Supports voluntary personal accounts for younger workers in lieu of the current social security system.
• Opposed Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a subsidized private voucher system.
• Supports the repeal of President Obama’s health care overhaul, but has offered no solutions of his own.
• Introduced the Kids First Act, which reauthorizes the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and provides $14 billion in additional funding.
• Supports reforms to Medicaid, specifically Paul Ryan’s plan to convert the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant.
REP. FRED UPTON, R-MICH.
• Favors privatizing Medicare, and “giving beneficiaries more control over their health care, allowing patients and their doctors, not the federal government, to make decisions about their needs."
• Criticized Democrats in July for using “Mediscare” tactics by misrepresenting the facts “to try to persuade the American people that the Republican plan will eliminate Medicare services for beneficiaries.”
• Opposed the concept of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which he thinks will ration health care services.
• Favors by converting Medicaid to a block grant program for the states.
- Said in a May letter that the quality of medical care provided by Medicaid to the poor is not as good as that provided to seniors under Medicare or privately insured patients.
• Opposes all proposals for raisingtaxes on consumers and businesses.
• Opposes efforts to create a value-added tax or VAT.
• Favors eliminating the estate tax.
• Opposes any effort to increase taxes on energy companies- Favors permanently extending the Bush-era tax.
• Criticized Obama’s Libya policy and voted to prevent U.S. military funds from supporting the NATO mission in Libya.
• Strongly advocates protecting military pay and health care benefits.
• Voted to pass a bill in 2001 that would raise the amount individuals could contribute to traditional and Roth Individual
Retirement Accounts and to 401[k] plans and make pensions plans more portable.
• Voted for a bill that said no budget surplus could be spent until the solvency of Social Security and Medicare is guaranteed.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.
• One of the most vocal opponents of Paul Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare into a voucher program, which he described as “dismantling” the program and “ripping apart the nation’s social safety net.”
• Offered a budget plan this spring that excluded Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security from spending cuts to reduce the deficit.
• Opposed Paul Ryan’s plan to convert Medicaid to a block grant program. “Walking away from the federal commitment to Medicaid doesn't solve the problem; it just passes health care costs down to states.”
• Favors eliminating tax breaks and deductions for individuals earning more than $500,000, wealthy corporations, and oil and gas companies.
-Proponent of making the Research and Development credit permanent.
• Helped draft a Democratic budget plan that would cut defense spending by $308 billion over 10 years. The plan also would have cut $309 billion from overseas contingency spending, assuming that the U.S. is out Iraq by the end of 2011.
• Opposes the privatization of Social Security.
• Rated 100 percent by the Alliance for Retired Americans, indicating a pro-senior voting record.
• “Social Security is not a driver of these deficits and debt,” Van Hollen said, “and we’re not going to balance the budget on the backs of Social Security beneficiaries.” He also said the program is 100 percent solvent until the year 2037.
REP. JAMES E. CLYBURN, D-S.C.
• Said defense spending should be subject to cuts, and that there should be a review of the continued U.S. military involvement in the Middle East.
• Called protecting Social Security one of his bottom-line obligations.
• Said the rhetoric used by some conservatives that Social Security will ultimately bankrupt the nation is a scare tactic.
• Rated 90 percent by the Alliance for Retired Americans, indicating a pro-senior voting record.
Medicare and Medicaid
• Called protecting Medicare and Medicaid a bottom-line obligation
• Voted against the House GOP budget plan, including Medicare choice and tax and spending cuts.
• Voted against limited prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients.
• Voted to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Taxes• Voted yes on extending the Alternative Minimum Tax exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income.
• Voted no on making the Bush tax cuts permanent.
• Voted no on eliminating the Estate Tax.
• Rated 80 percent by the Citizens for Tax Justice, indicating support of progressive taxation.
REP. XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIF.
• He is open to cuts in Medicare if they are linked with tax increases.
• Strongly opposes turning Medicare into a voucher program. “Now is the time to strengthen Medicare—not privatize it or turn it into CouponCare. ”
• Cosponsored a 2007 bill to mandate the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower Part D drug prices.
• Lambasted Paul Ryan’s budget plan for converting the program into a block grant system.
• Favors eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for wealthy individuals and oil companies. “Republicans keep talking about how Democrats want to tax everyone,” he said. “But not everyone drives or flies in corporate jets, not everyone gets to drill for oil and get a subsidy, not everyone is making zillions of dollars and getting tax breaks that reduce their rates of taxation lower than the secretaries that work for these folks.”
• Opposes renewing the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of earners in 2013.
• Opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and has long favored troop withdrawal
• Blames the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for growing deficits.
• Has called to cut defense contracting budgets.
• Said Social Security should not be part of any deficit reduction package.