The instant-reaction kabuki of party leaders to the president’s budget announcement has a certain predictable nature, and this year was no different.
Democrats expressed hope that Republicans would work with them to spend more money and reduce the deficit in part by closing tax loopholes. And Republican leaders quickly disabused them of that notion.
Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, as he does every year, ripped President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 blueprint.
“The president has offered perhaps his most irresponsible budget yet. American families looking for jobs and opportunity will find only more government in this plan. Spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much, it would hurt our economy and cost jobs,” he said.
Boehner dismissed the president’s $56 billion sidecar spending wish list in his budget as a violation of last year’s budget deal between House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash.
“What’s more, he proposes raising even more taxes — not to reduce the deficit but to spend more taxpayer money,” he complained.
Republicans said the new revenue in the budget over the next decade was a nonstarter.
Boehner promised that the House will produce its own budget, while Senate Democrats plan to punt this year.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, put the budget in a fairness frame, with the Republicans standing in the way.
“While Republicans feverishly work to reward their special interest friends with tax breaks, and maximize the pain of hard working Americans, Democrats will continue to advance an opportunity agenda that empowers all Americans to realize a better tomorrow for themselves and their families,” the California Democrat said in a statement.
“It is time for Republicans to end their callous and shortsighted obstruction, and join Democrats to pass a budget that creates jobs, expands opportunity, reduces the deficit and invests in the future,” she added.
Pelosi also said that a comprehensive immigration overhaul could shrink the deficit by $158 billion in the first decade “in addition to creating jobs, protecting American workers, fueling innovation, and energizing our economy.”
Ryan, for his part, lamented the lack of a long-term strategy for tackling the nation’s entitlement spending, dismissing the budget as a “campaign document.”
“It would demand that families pay more so Washington can spend more. It would hollow out our defense capabilities. And it would do nothing to preserve or strengthen our entitlements. The President has just three years left in his administration, and yet he seems determined to do nothing about our fiscal challenges,” said Ryan.
And House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., declared the president’s proposed wish list dead on arrival, declaring that his committee would stick to the spending caps established in last year’s deal.
“It is extremely disappointing that the President’s proposal today blatantly disregards the budget limits for fiscal year 2015 — spending roughly $60 billion in additional funds — and ignores the hard-fought compromise he so recently endorsed,” Rogers said.
Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., also criticized Obama’s tax proposals as a far cry from his proposed tax overhaul.
“Unfortunately, the President’s budget adds more complexity to the tax code and increases taxes for more Washington spending,” he said.
There was, however, at least some support for new spending in Republican ranks when it comes to the military.
“While we cut nearly one fifth of our defense resources, Russia and China are arming at an alarming rate,” said House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., in a statement. “Look at what the consequences of U.S. withdrawal are: Instability is spreading, our adversaries are growing bolder, and our security is threatened.”
The administration reiterated Tuesday that if Republicans want more defense spending, the administration wants domestic spending to be increased by the same amount, just as the Ryan-Murray deal did.
Murray, for her part, was one of the few Democratic leaders out with early, comprehensive statements on the blueprint.
She said she supports the $56 billion add-on list and hopes that Republicans would come back to the table ready to spend more and raise revenue.
And she pointed to one area of possible bipartisan agreement — using one-time revenue from tax overhaul to pay for an infrastructure package.
“Camp included a similar proposal in the Republican tax reform plan he released last week,” she noted. “Now that both Democrats and Republicans have proposed using revenue from the corporate tax code to invest in the surface transportation reauthorization and to make sure the Highway Trust Fund remains solvent so states and communities can continue work on infrastructure projects vital to economic growth, I am hopeful we can work together to get this done in the coming months.”