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In 2012, Another Budget Battle Brews

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
GOP aides said that Republicans will continue to hit the same themes that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan used during last year’s fight.

Republicans and Democrats alike are hoping to make 2012 a grudge match over the budget, closely tracking the topic that helped drag Congressional approval ratings to record lows last year and despite concerns among political operatives that the public is unmoved by the issue.

Although little more than a nonbinding resolution — made largely moot by last summer’s Budget Control Act — members of both parties’ leadership see this year’s budget as a prime battleground of the 2012 elections and are ramping up similar messaging machines to those used last year.

The decision to relitigate the budget is particularly surprising given the fact that, at least privately, some GOP strategists have warned that budgetary fights are, at best, a tough sell with the public and open the door to Democratic attacks over changes to Medicare.

But while Republican acknowledge they need to do a better job of linking the budget and the economy, particularly what they view as the negative effects of the administration’s plans, they say it will become a central theme when President Barack Obama releases his budget next week.

“The contrast with the president is good” when it comes to the budget, a senior House GOP leadership aide said Monday. The aide said that while “people get the link between the budget and the economy,” Republicans in the House understand that they need to do a better job of making that case this year.

According to GOP aides, Republicans will continue to hit the same themes that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) used during last year’s fight, arguing that reducing the “crushing burden of debt” is key to creating “certainty” for businesses and the need to reform entitlements to ensure their long-term viability.

Ryan made clear his intention to continue the war over the budget late last month when he slammed Obama’s decision to submit his budget to Congress late.

“The president’s failures to meet his legal obligations are symptomatic of a failure to meet his more critical moral obligation to the American people by tackling our most pressing fiscal and economic challenges,” Budget Committee Republicans argued in a Jan. 27 press release that hammered the White House for announcing it would miss its statutory deadline for submitting a budget by two weeks.

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