Republicans: Obama playing politics with budget
Congressional Republicans are accusing President Obama of putting forward a purely political budget this year to win reelection instead of tackling the big fiscal problems facing the United States today.
"He has punted again," House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI, pictured) said about the president's fiscal blueprint for the next ten years. "He has failed to take any credible action to deal with this crisis that not only threatens our economy today, but threatens our kids with a diminished future."
Ryan panned "all the gimmicks and the tax increases to fuel more spending" in the president's budget and vowed that the House would propose a budget this year that would tackle long-term drivers of the deficit like entitlements though he offered no specifics on his plan.
House Speaker John Boehner agreed with Chairman Ryan's negative assessment.
"The president's budget is a gloomy reflection of his failed policies of the past, not a bold plan for America's future," Boehner said in a statement. "It is bad for job creation, our economy, and America's seniors."
Democrats, not surprisingly, welcomed the president's plan to increase spending for infrastructure projects, schools and worker training while increasing taxes on anyone making over $1 million per year, in part by allowing the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expire for the wealthy.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in statement that the president's budget is "balanced, fair, and responsible and is an investment in our economic growth, in job creation, and in a stronger, thriving middle class." She also called it fiscally responsible, citing the White House estimate that the president's plan would reduce the deficit by $4 trillion.
But Senate Budget Chairman Jeff Sessions (R-AL) called the budget "exceedingly deceptive" and said the president reached that figure only by employing a number of accounting gimmicks to get there, including counting savings that already gone into effect. Those savings include money from withdrawing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and from cuts that Congress already passed as part of the debt limit deal over the summer.
Sessions said if those gimmicks were removed, there would be "a total deficit of over $11 trillion, virtually identical to the path we were already on."
The president's budget is not expected to pass the Congress this year, but the issue won't go away either. House Republicans will introduce their budget as early as next month and all eyes will be on what Chairman Ryan proposes to preserve Medicare. The House GOP has already passed a politically-risky plan to privatize Medicare in the GOP budget last year, but Ryan has been promoting a new hybrid approach with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) that would preserve government-run Medicare but allow private plans to compete as well.
A lot will be riding on that document, which Republicans in Congress (as well as the GOP presidential nominee) will seek to use to contrast the vision President Obama laid out in his budget.