Budget Rhetoric War Continues

Budget leaders [Sunday] continued their rhetorical war in anticipation of what is expected to be a tough partisan battle on the floors of the House and Senate over the FY10 budget resolutions.

Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Budget committees said proposals to reform health care and other initiatives in President Obama's budget will help reduce the deficit and ultimately strengthen the economy

Speaking on CNN's "State of The Union," House Budget Chairman John Spratt and Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad argued that any budget deficits that Obama will run in the next several years were the fault of former President George W. Bush.

"He has only been in office as president a few months," Spratt said. "And for the most part, what we are looking at in these horrendous deficits is something that is carried over from the previous administration."

Conrad said "The great challenge here is to put us on a more sustainable path," which he believes Obama's agenda -- which is focused on healthcare reform, energy independence, and improved education -- tries to do.

"The president said to us we have to reduce our dependence on foreign energy -- absolutely critical," Conrad said. "We have to focus on excellence on education; we have to have major healthcare reform because that is the 800-pound gorilla. That is the thing that can swamp the boat fiscally for the United States."

Spratt and Conrad stressed that the budget resolutions that the House and Senate will consider cut the deficit over five years, and provide latitude to committees of jurisdiction to move forward with energy, healthcare and education legislation.

But Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who also appeared on CNN Sunday, believes Obama's agenda is too expensive and distracts from attacking the economic recession: "What we ought not to be doing is passing the budget that they propose that we pass in the Senate and the House next week that doubles the national debt in the next five years and triples it in the next 10; a massive tax increase; an energy tax, up to $3,100 per person; an effort, we believe, to nationalize health care; that has nothing to do with the economic dilemma, which we confront at the moment."

McConnell doesn't think any Senate Republicans will vote for the budget resolution; a final vote is expected late Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, on NBC's "Meet The Press," host David Gregory asked Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., if "Republicans should provide a detailed budget alternative ... with numbers?" McCain, Obama's 2008 opponent for the presidency, said, "Yes ... We're working on it, we're working very hard on it." When pressed by Gregory what the "key elements" would be, McCain said, "Well, obviously, less spending; obviously, more restraints; obviously, not having $630 billion for 'revenues from cap and trade.' By the way, that's cap and tax, that's not cap and trade. The other spending restraint measures that have to be taken - we're working on it very hard."

While Republicans have continued criticizing the administration's budget, the White House has been hitting back.

Last week, when House Minority Leader Boehner released a 19-page document that included few details on deficits or spending, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs joked that it took him "several minutes" to read it. And on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital With Al Hunt" scheduled for broadcast today, OMB Director Orszag continued the heckling, saying the GOP budget proposal offers few details and that the GOP had quickly gone from being "the party of 'no' to the party of 'no detail.'"

Appearing on the same program, House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan said, "There was some confusion as to what was released on Thursday; that was not our alternative budget," adding it was "a broader Republican economic agenda" and that he would unveil the party's tax-and-spending plan with specifics on Tuesday.

Presented by

Cyra Master

Cyra Master is a W.E.B. Du Bois fellow at the Atlantic. Previously, she was an editor at the nonprofit Center for Law and Social Policy and was a reporter for the New Hampshire Eagle Tribune. She is a graduate of Emerson College.

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