House Democrats Seek Better Budget Strategy This Year

Posted February 5, 2003 at 2:39pm

As Congress gears up for another budget battle, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) hopes his party will not repeat last year’s failure to reach consensus on a counterproposal to President Bush’s fiscal plan.

This time around, he, said, Democrats will offer their own budget outline and long-term economic plan, in response to Bush’s budget outline and stimulus proposal.

“There is a will within the Democratic Caucus to come to agreement and provide an alternative,” Hoyer said at a Wednesday press briefing.

Democrats have criticized Bush’s $2.23 trillion fiscal 2004 budget as short-changing domestic programs while also recklessly expanding the deficit.

“Republicans are changing the 1994 position,” Hoyer said.

He charged that Republicans have abandoned their commitment to balanced budgets now that they control Congress and the White House.

“They’re doing what they did in the ’80s,” he said. “They think deficits don’t matter now.”

While short on specifics, Hoyer said the Democrats’ alternative growth package would be “focused, fair and will not exacerbate the long-term deficit.”

The Democrats offered, earlier this year, several short-term, one-year stimulus packages ranging from $136 billion to $160 billion in cost, but they want a longer plan to counter Bush’s $694 billion, 10-year proposal.

Dealing with more pressing business, Hoyer said the continuing resolution — needed to keep the government running until conferees wrap up work on the fiscal 2003 omnibus appropriations bill — will extend through Feb. 20. The House is expected to vote on the measure Wednesday night.