Republican leaders reacted with disdain to President Barack Obama’s budget as soon as it was released on Monday, saying it has no chance of passing through Congress.
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the budget, which is aimed at cutting $4 trillion from the federal deficit in the next decade, “an insult” to American taxpayers.
The budget “won't take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis,” the former Massachusetts governor said.
"The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors," Romney added.
Both Republicans and Democrats see the budget battle as a precursor to the election campaign. Speaking at a community college in Annandale, Va., on Monday, Obama said Congress should pass it “without any ideological side issues.”
“The last thing we can do is go back to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place. The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback,” the president said.
But there was little hope that Republicans would accept his plea; they immediately blasted it for not doing nearly enough to reduce the deficit.
"We do not plan on retreating," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said. "We feel we owe the country a solution, a plan, to lift the burden of debt to get us back to prosperity, a fiscal policy to grow the economy and get our debt under control."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who is being touted as a likely vice-presidential candidate, decried Obama’s plans as “more spending, more debt, more deficits.”
“It’s not a serious budgetary document,” the Florida Republican said during an interview with radio host Scott Hennen. “In no way does he intend for it to be passed or live under it. It’s nothing but a campaign document.
“Look, I don’t like saying those things,” added the freshman senator. “I don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘What partisan thing can I do today?’
“I wish we didn’t have to fight about these issues on a partisan level. I wish everyone understood the dire straits this country is in, in terms of spending and debt.”
Rubio suggested that Republicans could press for a vote on the budget in the Democratic-controlled Senate, a tactic they employed last year when they found the majority party did not have the votes to push it through. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had already floated that idea before the budget was announced.
Central to Obama’s platform is an end to the Bush-era tax cuts for the super-rich, which GOP leaders have resisted. “This isn’t class warfare,” Obama said. “It’s common sense.
“We don’t envy the wealthy,” he said. “We expect everyone to do their fair share.”
The budget calls for a deficit of more than $1 trillion for the fourth year in a row. Even for 2013, the deficit will be $901 billion, it predicted.
Over 10 years, the White House budget assumes savings of $848 billion, half of which would go to paying down the national debt. Obama wants the other half to fund new investments.
Hardest hit departments under his plan include the Environmental Protection Agency, which would lose more than $8 billion; the Pentagon; and NASA. But energy, the technology standards, and pipeline safety would all receive considerably more.
Pet Obama projects also do well. His Race to the Top education initiative and his transportation package both would get an increase of more than 50 percent.
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