Alexander Votes Against Budget Agreement, But It Passes Senate

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on his vote against the Ryan-Murray budget agreement: The bill passed 64-36.

“I voted against the budget agreement because it avoids the federal government’s most urgent need: reducing the growth of runaway entitlement spending. Instead, it spends savings that should be used to strengthen Medicare, pensions, and the air transportation system. It is particularly troubling that the budget agreement takes money from pensions in a way that treats military retirees worse than the civilian federal employees. 

“It would have been better to pay for this agreement with a small part of the $1 trillion in entitlement savings that Sen. Corker and I have identified in our ‘Fiscal Sustainability Act,’ or with entitlement savings suggested in the president’s budget.   

“Although I can’t support it, I appreciate the efforts of Rep. Ryan and Sen. Murray to bring certainty to the budget process, which is why I voted Tuesday to allow a Senate vote on their agreement, which had passed the House with two-to-one Republican support.”  

In addition to its failure to address growth of mandatory entitlement spending – such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – Alexander cited four major objections to the budget agreement. Alexander objected to the agreement because it: 

  • Cuts $22 billion in 2022 and 2023 in Medicare reimbursements to doctors and other health care providers, for savings that may never materialize.
  • Increases pension premiums paid by employers to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. by $7.9 billion, to pay for unrelated spending.
  • Cuts the annual cost-of-living benefits for military retirees under the age of 62 by 1 percent, to pay for unrelated spending. This would impact current retirees, as opposed to new hires as in the case of changes to civilian federal employee pensions.
  • Increases by $12.6 billion airport security fees – which generally get passed on to airline passengers – to pay for unrelated spending. Such fees should be used to improve airport security. 

In February, Senators Alexander and Corker introduced the “Fiscal Sustainability Act,” S. 11, "to reduce the growth of entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) by nearly $1 trillion in the next decade in order to improve the programs’ solvency."

Senator Alexander said that bill incorporates many of the recommendations made by President Obama’s Debt Commission (Simpson-Bowles) as well as by former Republican Senator Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, budget director for former President Clinton. 


Reward Offered For Information On Car Burglaries And Vandalism In Cleveland

A $500 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of suspect(s) involved in car burglaries and/or vandalism in Cleveland occurring this past weekend in and around the Greenway and its parking areas, Stuart School and Perry’s Petals. Authorities are processing forensic evidence. The public is urged to contact Detective Matt Jenkins, Criminal Investigations ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Home Destroyed By Fire Early Monday Morning

A home in the Ooltewah area was destroyed by fire early Monday morning. At 3:18 a.m., a 911 call was made reporting a house fire at 9215 Quail Mountain Drive. The Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived within minutes reporting fire showing through the roof and 3/4 of the house involved. Firefighters went into a “defensive attack” to control the fire. ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Our’ American Minute

William J. Federer is one of the leading historians in the United States and every morning I am among thousands of people who get an entertaining email from him called the “American Minute.” I adore it because Bill takes a significant event in American history that happened long ago – but he remembers on the very anniversary of when it occurred. A great example is that last Thursday ... (click for more)

Prep Football Practice Starts Today

Coaches barking instructions, players blocking and tackling, quarterbacks and receivers working on timing routes and error-free handoffs to fleet-footed running backs.   In the greater Chattanooga area and throughout the state it can mean just one thing. It’s time for Prep Football 2014.   Today is the first official day ... (click for more)

NPSL National Championship To Be Played At Red Bulls Arena

The NPSL announced on Monday that the national championship match between Chattanooga FC and the Red Bulls U23 will be played on Saturday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.  The match will be played following an MLS match between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution.   Local fans took to social media to appeal for the game to be played in Chattanooga. ... (click for more)