Tags: orszag | ridicules | GOP

OMB Head Orszag Uses Reagan to Mock GOP On Spending Bill

Monday, 09 Mar 2009 07:30 AM

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WASHINGTON – The White House Sunday ridiculed Republican attacks on its big-spending economic revival plans as President Barack Obama eyed the green shoots of recovery this year.

"As (Republican president) Ronald Reagan once put it, there they go again," Peter Orszag, director of Obama's Office of Management and Budget, said on CBS program "Face the Nation."

"We've had eight years of one approach - it didn't work. We're offering a new approach," he said, rejecting Republican prescriptions for big tax cuts for higher-income earners and companies.

Opposition lawmakers, angered by Obama's 3.55-trillion-dollar budget proposal, are also vowing to do battle against a hefty package designed to keep government operations going this fiscal year.

The Democratic-led Congress Friday approved a stop-gap measure to fund operations through Wednesday, after Republicans stalled a 410-billion-dollar spending plan to keep the government running until October 1.

The initial bill was larded with so-called earmarks, pet projects for lawmakers' constituents, and nearly half of the requests came from Republicans.

Orszag said the White House did not like the earmarks but the government operations package was a holdover from last year and should be allowed to go through, prior to a purge promised by Obama in future spending bills.

The Republican leader in the House of Representatives, John Boehner, called for a government spending freeze to show that Washington was serious about fiscal reform as the nation grapples with its worst recession in decades.

"American families are tightening their belts. But they don't see government tightening its belt," he said.

The 3.55-trillion-dollar budget proposal rolled out by the Obama administration last month bristles with economic reforms and spending on healthcare, climate change and education.

In a weekly broadcast, the president vowed Saturday that "irresponsible" and "unsustainable" budgets were a thing of the past.

And in a weekend interview with the New York Times, Obama said he expects to have "all the pillars in place" this year for an economic recovery while avoiding the need for new bailout funds for crisis-hit banks.

"How long it will take before recovery actually translates into stronger job markets and so forth is going to depend on a whole range of factors, including our ability to get other countries to coordinate and take similar actions."

Obama's comments, given ahead of a G20 summit in London in early April, came amid concern that ballooning government spending will result in major long-term economic damage.

"What we're doing is phenomenal, not only as far as the debt is concerned, but the transfer of what the free enterprise system does over (to) the government," said Senator John McCain, Obama's defeated presidential rival.

"It's the biggest since Franklin Delano Roosevelt," he told "Fox News Sunday," referring to the Democratic president's "New Deal" in the depths of the 1930s Great Depression.

McCain and senior Senate colleague Richard Shelby meanwhile called for Obama to pull the plug on General Motors, demanding that America's biggest automaker undergo bankruptcy restructuring rather than receive more government aid.

"Subsidization of anything for very long never works," Shelby said on ABC's "This Week," joining McCain in also demanding an end to the government bailouts of enfeebled banks.

In the teeth of Republican objections, Obama has already hustled a 787-billion-dollar economic stimulus package through Congress.

Orszag pleaded for time for the measures to take effect, after news Friday that US employers axed another 651,000 jobs in February to send the unemployment rate to a 25-year high of 8.1 percent.

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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