While the text of Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad’s (D-ND) 2012 budget resolution has not yet been made publicly available, the Chairman did reveal new details yesterday about the plan. Most importantly, Conrad’s plan would make considerably smaller cuts to Medicaid than the House-passed budget. Specifically, the Senate budget would cut $80 billion from Medicare and Medicaid combined over the next decade while preserving their entitlement status. In contrast, the House budget cut more than $770 billion from Medicaid alone, halving federal support for the program and converting it into state block grants.
Chairman Conrad’s budget is able to largely preserve Medicare and Medicaid funding by raising about $2 trillion in revenue over 10 years while also cutting defense spending by almost $1 trillion. Overall, the plan would cut the deficit by about $4 trillion over the next decade, a figure in line with the deficit savings sought by President Obama in the debt ceiling negotiations. While the Senate budget would seem highly unlikely to be politically palatable to the House, its release in the midst of the debt ceiling negotiations does provide an important alternative to the deep entitlement cuts being discussed by some.