Tags: Barack Obama | National Debt | Obama | budget | GOP | exceed | spending caps

Obama's Expected Budget to Exceed Caps; Will Be at Odds With GOP

By    |   Thursday, 29 January 2015 09:09 PM

President Barack Obama is expected Monday to unveil a budget that will exceed spending caps for defense and domestic programs, but a GOP-controlled Congress has a different mandate.

"Congress is under new management, and so is this committee," Wyoming Republican Sen. Michael Enzi, the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, declared at the panel’s first hearing, The New York Times reports.

"I intend to run a Budget Committee dedicated to the proposition that we must confront spending, bring the deficit to an end and, ultimately, balance the budget," Enzi said.

The push from Obama and congressional Democrats to raise taxes on the rich to bolster the incomes of middle-class families is also driving the parties apart on fiscal policy, the Times notes.

"There are other deficits in our society that have been causing horrendous pain for the vast majority of the American people," Democratic Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont told Enzi. "These are deficits in decent-paying jobs, deficits in infrastructure, deficits in income, deficits in equality."

Republicans are also speaking more about wage stagnation and income inequality, but the party is united around spending constraints and deficit reduction, according to the Times.

"We’re on different planets," an unnamed Democratic budget aide said of the gap between the parties, the Times reports.

A series of fiscal showdowns will be coming, the Times notes: Department of Homeland Security funding ends Feb. 28; a cut in physician payments under Medicare comes March 31; the highway trust fund dries up May 31; a debt-ceiling showdown looms in the summer or fall; and across-the-board mandatory cuts known as sequestration start Oct. 1.

If those sequestration cuts happen, "we will not be able to defeat an adversary, deny another adversary, and defend the homeland," warned Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. "I do not believe that is good for America."

Under the president’s plan for the fiscal year beginning in October, spending for programs at the discretion of Congress could exceed caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 by as much as $70 billion: half for defense, half for domestic programs, according to the Times.

But any breach of spending caps will prompt a major fight with Congress, the Times reports.

Still, Defense officials hope crises like the rise of Islamic State (ISIS), Russian aggression in Ukraine, and the battle against the Ebola virus in West Africa will persuade Congress to ease up on spending controls.

And Democrats hope Republican defense hawks like Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, the new chairman of the Armed Services Committee, will push to increase military spending — something Democrats won't accept without more domestic spending, the Times reports.

"This comes down to a battle in the Republican Party between fiscal hawks and defense hawks, and you will see a lot of pressure from defense folks to raise the caps," Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said Wednesday, the Times reports.

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President Barack Obama is expected Monday to unveil a budget that will exceed spending caps for defense and domestic programs, but a GOP-controlled Congress has a different mandate.
Obama, budget, GOP, exceed, spending caps, defense, Republican Sen. Michael Enzi
Thursday, 29 January 2015 09:09 PM
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