News Column

Little Common Ground in Budget Wars

March 13, 2013

Most Americans say they want President Obama and a divided Congress to find compromises, but competing budget proposals out this week from House Republicans and Senate Democrats underscore why they are hard to find.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled a blueprint Tuesday that offered proposals that have almost no Democratic support. It includes the elimination of Obama's health care law, fundamental changes to Medicare for future retirees and $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade affecting programs such as food stamps and college grants, all while protecting defense spending from the budget ax. In the plan, the government would stop spending more than it takes in by 2023.

Senate Democrats plan to release a budget today that includes about $1trillion in new revenue from closing tax loopholes for corporations and the rich, despite GOP opposition to any new taxes after the January deal that raised $620 billion from wealthy Americans.

"The truth is that (Democrats) can't ever tax the American people enough to pay for their skyrocketed levels of spending that they want," said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a senior member of the House budget panel.

According to initial Senate budget details, their plan also includes about $1 trillion in spending cuts, which is far below the threshold Republicans are seeking for deficit reduction. "It shows the gulf we have to bridge is just as big as ever," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the senior Democrat on the budget committee.

The House and Senate are unlikely to be able to reconcile their competing budgets. Each chamber is scheduled to approve a plan next week on what is likely to be party-line votes.

Obama decried the Ryan plan in an interview with ABC News. "My goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we are going to be bringing in more revenue," he said Tuesday.

Obama's budget won't arrive on Capitol Hill until April 8. The White House has said the unprecedented delay is partly because budget writers were tied up with negotiations over the year-end "fiscal cliff" deal.

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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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