Mitch McConnell: Obama Budget Is 'Political Stunt'

Image: Mitch McConnell: Obama Budget Is 'Political Stunt'

Tuesday, 04 Mar 2014 04:51 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Republican leaders slammed President Barack Obama's $3.9 trillion budget proposal Tuesday variously as "not serious," "irresponsible" and "dead on arrival."

All believe the document has no chance of getting through Congress and they urged Obama to come back with a budget that the two parties could work together on.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed the budget as "not a very serious document."

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"Rather than put together a constructive blueprint the two parties could use as a jumping-off point to get our economy moving and our fiscal house in order, the president has once again opted for the political stunt: for a budget that’s more about firing up the president’s base in an election year than about solving the nation’s biggest and most persistent long-term challenges," the Kentucky Republican said.

"The president’s well into his sixth year of trying to fix this economy, his sixth year of trying to tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity," McConnell said. "Just as his ideology demands.

"But this much has to be clear to him by now: it hasn’t worked."

Noting that the federal government has spent nearly $18 trillion since 2009, McConnell added: "Millions of middle-class Americans continue to suffer, whether in the unemployment line or in jobs that barely allow them to get by. It’s time the president realized that doubling down on the same failed policies is not going to work."

"We don’t need any more election-year gimmicks," the senator said. "What’s needed is a new approach: a positive strategy that focuses on helping the middle class instead of appeasing the far left."

Obama has proposed a budget that would increase spending on roads and bridges and expand early-childhood education while paying for some of the additional spending by reducing tax breaks for wealthier Americans.

The proposal has almost no chance of passage in Congress, where Republicans control the House of Representatives, but it details Obama's policy priorities ahead of the November congressional elections.

Democrats are fighting to keep control of the Senate and avoid losing ground in the House.

"Our budget is about choices," Obama said in announcing his budget during a visit to an elementary school in Washington. "It's about our values.

"At a time when our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years, we've got to decide if we're going to keep squeezing the middle class or if we're going to continue to reduce the deficits responsibly while taking steps to grow and strengthen the middle class," the president said.

The proposed budget stays within the overall cap of $1.014 trillion for discretionary spending that Congress set for 2015, but it includes $56 billion in additional spending that Obama has earmarked for education, welfare and defense programs — all paid for in part by ending a tax break for wealthy retirees.

McConnell, however, wasn't the only Republican to slam the president's budget plan immediately as election-year gimmickry.

House Speaker John Boehner blasted it as Obama's "most irresponsible budget yet."

"American families looking for jobs and opportunity will find only more government in this plan," the Ohio Republican said. "Spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much — it would hurt our economy and cost jobs.

"It offers no solutions to save the safety net and retirement security programs that are critical to millions of Americans but are also driving our fiscal imbalance," he said.

"This budget is a clear sign this president has given up on any efforts to address our serious fiscal challenges that are undermining the future of our kids and grandkids," Boehner said. "It seems to me like the president’s just about given up on helping folks who are in the middle, folks who feel like Washington doesn’t take their concerns and anxieties into consideration anymore."

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said the budget reflected Obama's penchant for "supersized" government.

"This budget will never balance," he told "America's Newsroom" on Fox News. "I think the president just wants taxpayers to pay more so that Washington can spend more."

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said  Obama needed to work with Congress on such revenue-producing projects as the Keystone XL Pipeline and fast-track trade promotion authority instead of proposing "more of the same policies to grow the government at the expense of the middle class."

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said Obama's budget is worthless.

"I imagine President Obama’s budget is dead on arrival. It deserves to be. Like many of his past budgets, it is a partisan political document, not a serious attempt to resolve the nation’s financial crisis, grow our economy or create jobs," Johnson said.

In the House, Budget Vice Chairman Tom Price of Georgia charged that Obama's budget "embraces the false notion that Washington's record deficits and climbing debt can somehow be controlled by massively increasing spending and hiking taxes."

"Meanwhile, as the federal government is spending record amounts on social welfare programs, one in five children live in poverty, 15 percent of all Americans are impoverished."

Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn said, "American taxpayers are tired of Washington bureaucrats repeatedly taking more of their heard-earned money just so this administration can quench their thirst for higher spending."

"The president’s proposed budget only exacerbates the reality that this administration’s policies are squeezing the middle class and stifling economic growth," she said.

Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona charged that the plan "raises taxes, creates new government programs, makes indiscriminate cuts to the size and pay of the military at a time when our country faces increasing global uncertainty and instability — and fails to incorporate even modest reforms to our looming entitlement crisis."

Meanwhile, Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, echoed similar concerns.

"Once again, President Obama has produced a budget that doesn't balance, runs annual deficits, and relies on partisan politics instead of a fiscally responsible, pro-growth tax policy," he said.

"To make matters worse, the president released this budget a month late, signaling that he's just not interested in getting D.C. spending under control. The idea that the Obama administration has ushered in an 'age of austerity' is laughable.

"The American people deserve better," Phillips said.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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