McConnell: President missed the point, presents “unserious budget”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the president's investment plans missed the simple point that "we don't have the money" to finance Obama's vision of "trains and windmills" in the future.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the president's investment plans missed the simple point that "we don't have the money" to finance Obama's vision of "trains and windmills" in the future.

 

     

"After two years of failed stimulus programs and Democrats in Washington competing to outspend each other, we just can't afford to do all the things the administration wants.”

 

(You can read the text of Senator’s Paul’s speech at the end of this article)

Count West Virginia freshman Senator Joe Manchin among the congressional critics of President Obama's new budget proposal.

 

     

The fellow Democrat said Tuesday that the president's $3.73 trillion spending plan is not what the U.S. needs or expects.

 

     

Manchin cited government spending and debt as challenges that the proposal does not go far enough to address.

 

     

He singled out the $53 billion it would spend on a high-speed rail network. Manchin said few Americans would ever use it.

 

     

But the former West Virginia governor also takes issue with Obama's plan to cut home heating assistance.

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(AP) -- Republicans are mocking President Obama's $3.73 trillion budget for 2012 for waving feebly at historically huge federal deficits. As if to show how it should be done, they are ready to start muscling their own package of deep cuts in domestic spending through the House.

Eager to please their conservative tea party supporters, Republicans are championing $61 billion in cuts to hundreds of programs for the remaining seven months of this federal fiscal year under a bill the House planned to debate Tuesday. AmeriCorps and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be completely erased, while deep cuts would be carved from programs for feeding poor women and children, training people for jobs and cleaning the Great Lakes.

Reductions of that magnitude this late in a fiscal year would have a jarring impact on many programs. The GOP-run House planned to approve the measure Thursday.

The proposed reductions have "showdown" written all over them. Republicans included them in a must-pass bill financing the government, which otherwise runs out of money on March 4. The Democratic-controlled Senate and Obama himself are sure to turn them down.

"We have consistently said it's not our intention to shut down this government," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Monday of one possibility should there be an impasse. "That's political talk and we ought to get that off the table and we ought to go about the real business of trying to cut spending."

Democrats were not inclined to let Republicans off easy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warned that college students, police officers and children would be victimized.

"House Republicans are going too far, sacrificing Americans' health, safety and future in order to protect the special interests," she said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, White House budget director Jacob Lew was kicking off the administration's defense of its 2012 budget on Capitol Hill with an appearance Tuesday before the House Budget Committee.

Obama unveiled his fiscal blueprint a day earlier, a plan that mixes tax increases on the wealthy and some businesses, a five-year freeze on most domestic programs, and boosts for elementary schools, clean energy and airport security. The outline is a first step in what is likely to be a bitter partisan fight as Congress translates it into a parade of tax and spending bills.

Despite its savings, Obama's budget projects a record $1.65 trillion deficit this year, falling to $1.1 trillion next year and easing thereafter. Even so, it stands to generate a mammoth $7.2 trillion sea of red ink over the next 10 years, a number that would be even larger had the president not claimed over $1 trillion in 10-year savings by winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Glaringly missing from the president's budget was a substantial reshaping of Social Security, Medicare and other massive, automatically paid benefit programs that bipartisan members of his deficit-reduction commission had recommended last year. That leaves the nation under a black fiscal cloud as its aging population, prolonged lifespans and ever costlier medical procedures leave the government with enormous I.O.U.'s.

Most Republicans have also shied away from calling for savings from so-called entitlement programs, but that's not stopped them from criticizing Obama's failure to do so. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, has called for such reductions, but would not predict whether they would be included in the 2012 spending plan his panel plans to write this spring.

"The president punted on the budget, he punted on the deficit," Ryan told reporters. "That's not leadership, that's an abdication of leadership."

Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday, Ryan said that while the GOP doesn't want to see a government shutdown, it also does not plan to "rubber stamp" policies it opposes.

And he reiterated that lawmakers cannot expect to exempt benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare from the budget-cutting fervor, saying that if Republicans "ignore the drivers of our debt, which are these entitlement programs, then we are no better than the president."

Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said people do not have to "prepare to lose significant benefits."

"If we start now and we do the right thing today and work together, we can reform Social Security and Medicare, which is over half of our budget, correct, and make some real progress there to put them on a sustainable path," the Alabama Republican said on CBS's "The Earl y Show."

Overall, Obama's budget claims $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction from tax increases and spending cuts over the next decade while protecting some - but not all - programs that Democrats cherish.

"We believe it strikes the right balance for the country going forward," said Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

Not all from Obama's party are happy. The head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., criticized proposed cuts in community development, while Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Obama had fallen short in reducing the deficit.

By 2021, Obama projects that $844 billion out of the $5.7 trillion federal budget would go toward paying interest on the government's debt. Such interest payments would exceed the size of the entire federal budget in 1983.

Federal budgets often burrow into the minutest details of the bureaucracy, and Obama's was no exception.

The State Department said it expected to save $5.3 million over the next three years by painting the roofs of its embassies and other offices in a heat-reflecting, energy-saving white color. And the U.S. Agency for International Development projected hundreds of thousands in savings by reducing the font size in its documents to reduce paper usage.

 

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Earlier today, President Obama showed the American people just how he intends to spend their tax dollars, and how much more he intends to borrow, to fund his vision of the future. And it’s a huge disappointment to those in both parties who were hoping the President would take this opportunity to address the grave and imminent fiscal crises we face. The President's budget is the clearest sign yet he simply does not take our fiscal problems seriously.

 

“It is a patronizing plan that says to the American people that their concerns are not his concerns. 

 

“It’s a plan that says fulfilling the President’s vision of a future of trains and windmills is more important than a balanced checkbook.

 

“It’s a plan that asks our children to pay for an imaginary vision of the future that may or may not come about by adding trillions to a debt that will be very real to them indeed.

 

“The President’s budget comes in at close to a thousand pages. The people who voted for a new direction in November have a five-word response: We don’t have the money.

 

“We don’t have the money.

 

“Americans have been asking a crucial question as we approached this debate: how do we get back to balance, how we get to a place where Washington spends less than it takes in? And the simple fact about this budget is that the President and all his advisors couldn’t come up with a single year in the next 10 where we do that.

 

“That’s the key question in this debate, but it’s the one question that the President and all of his advisors don’t seem to have been the least bit interested in.

 

“The White House wants us to engage in a debate this week about percentage cuts at this or that agency, about multi-year projections and CBO scores. It all misses the point. The real point is this: We're broke. We don't have the money.

 

“Look: there's a time to experiment with high-flown plans and to test theories. But you have the balance the checkbook first. You have to be able to afford it. The American people get that. This administration doesn’t seem to.

 

“After two years of failed Stimulus programs and Democrats in Washington competing to outspend each other, we just can't afford to do all the things the administration wants.

 

“The President has said he wants us to `Win the Future.’  But this budget abdicates the future. It spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much. It says that the President does not have the will or the ability to do what we need to do with the money that we have. But that’s precisely what the Americans are demanding that we do.

 

“Americans reject the idea that they have to live with another 13 trillion dollars in debt to fund the President or anyone else's vision of the future.

 

“This budget was an opportunity for the President to lead. He punted. It only pretends to do the things people want. And the reaction we’ve seen from across the political spectrum so far today suggests that nobody’s buying it.

 

“The President may be determined to keep spending levels at the current high levels — high levels he put in place — in the hope that people will get used to them. But he’s clearly misread a public that has had enough. 

 

“We must live within our means. We must begin to do the difficult but necessary work of reining in a government that has grown beyond our ability to pay for it. We must acknowledge the mistakes of the past two years and work to correct them.

 

“The Stimulus failed. This budget says `Do it again.’

 

“The President has already added more than 3 trillion dollars to the debt as we lost another three million jobs. This budget says let’s add more debt and see if we get a different result.

 

“The President had an opportunity to cut domestic spending from the 25 percent he’s increased it since he came into office. Instead, he locked it in place.

 

“He had an opportunity to start to pay down the tremendous burden of debt that he’s added over the past two years. He wants to increase it instead.

 

“He had an opportunity to work with Republicans on reforming long-term entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He took a pass.

 

“This is a status quo budget at a time when serious action is needed.

 

“This is business as usual at a time when bold, creative solutions are needed.

 

“This is not an I-got-the-message budget. It’s unserious, and it’s irresponsible.

 

“We need to look for ways to preserve what’s good that does not put us on path to bankruptcy. That was the challenge of this budget. The administration failed the test.

 

“After years of overspending by both parties, it’s time to make tough choices, just as any family does when times are tough, even among very good things. We have to cut even from programs that are good, as difficult as it is, recognizing that the values we are fighting for in this debate are more fundamental than the survival of any one program. We need to face that fact that we don’t have the money. It is not an American value to borrow from others to pay for programs we don’t need and can’t afford.  And it is not an American value to put off tough decisions because you refuse to say no to things you want.

 

“If there’s any good news in this debate, it’s that we’re finally beginning to talk about how much to cut in this town instead of how much to spend.

 

“But we’re going to need more people to join the fight.

 

“We’ll need Democrats to join us.

 

“Above all, we need a President who gets it.

 

“And this President clearly does not get it yet.”

 

 

 

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