Budget Chairman promises GOP plan to balance in decade

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The new Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said Thursday that he'll try to pass a fiscal blueprint this spring that will promise a balanced budget by the end of 10 years.

"We'll try and balance the budget in a 10-year period," Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said on a conference call with reporters. "And we hope to do it without gimmicks and bad accounting."

But Enzi wouldn't say what he hopes to do with special budget legislation that can overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Many conservatives hope to use unique filibuster-proof legislation permitted under the budget process to repeal the new health care law.

Enzi appeared skeptical of using the budget to ram through a tax reform bill on a partisan vote.

The first step in Congress' arcane budget process is to adopt a non-binding resolution illustrating fiscal goals. Enzi promised to pass such a so-called budget resolution through the Senate by the end of March. The measure sets the broad parameters of follow-up legislation.

Enzi didn't respond directly when asked if Republicans would follow up with implementing legislation that would fulfill GOP promises. Two decades ago when Republicans took over Congress, they challenged President Bill Clinton with a balanced budget measure that he vetoed. Republicans aren't expected to try that again.

Some Republicans advocate using the budget process to pass tax reform, but Enzi said that he and other Republicans such as Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, believe that tax reform needs to be passed on a bipartisan basis.

"If we're going to have a successful tax reform, it really shouldn't be just partisan," Enzi said.

A key question facing Republicans is whether to try to reverse painful automatic cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs under a 2011 budget deal between President Barack Obama and House Republicans.

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