WASHINGTON — Tired of being labeled "the party of 'no'," US President Barack Obama's Republican critics said Thursday they could do a better job of spurring growth while keeping ballooning deficits in check.
Spurred by sharp criticism from Obama, top Republicans in the House of Representatives brandished a glossy 18-page budget plan for a "Road to Recovery" and promised to flesh out its very spare details next Wednesday.
"Two nights ago the president said, 'We haven't seen a budget yet out of Republicans'," said House Minority Leader John Boehner. "Well, it's not true, because here it is, Mister President."
"This is what we think is the best way to get our economy out of the ditch," said Republican Representative Paul Ryan. "We're going to show a leaner budget, a budget with lower taxes, lower spending and lower borrowing."
Although it has virtually no chance of passing, the plan may serve a useful political purpose as Obama and his Democratic allies tussle over the White House's budget amid deep anxiety over swelling deficits.
US budgets serve as statements of spending and tax priorities that form a non-binding guideline for appropriations committees that decide the government's actual outlays.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs pounced on the document's brevity and lack of details, saying: "it's interesting to have a budget that doesn't contain any numbers" and joking: "it took me several minutes to read it."
The Republican blueprint stays true to the party's belief in tax cuts as a solution to a wide array of economic ills, offering to cut rates to 10 percent for people making 100,000 dollars per year or less, while using unspecified tax incentives to help expand healthcare coverage.
"I think the party of 'no' has become the party of 'no new ideas,'" said Gibbs, describing Republican promises to extend George W. Bush's tax cuts as "a road map for the failed policies that got us into this mess."
On the energy front, the plan promises to lower US dependence on energy imports by allowing greater exploration while promoting nuclear power and renewable sources like wind and solar energy, but offers few details.
Notably, the lack of specifics makes it impossible to calculate what the deficit, which threatens to explode under Obama's budget, would be under the Republican plan.
"The administration is glad that the Republicans heard the President's call to submit an alternative. We just hope that next time it will contain actual numbers so somebody can evaluate what it means," said Gibbs.