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Obama’s Valentine’s Day budget: No roses or bon-bons for the GOP

President Obama's FY 2012 budget lands on congressional desks Monday. Republicans are unimpressed, which sets the scene for a long fight over spending, taxing, and deficit reduction.

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One-third of the savings would come from tax revenues, including by closing several tax loopholes and capping itemized deductions.

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There are cuts to some programs particularly close to Democrats’ hearts – Pell Grants for low-income college students, community development block grants, and low-income heating assistance.

Some of the new House Republican members, propelled into office with tea party backing, seem ready if not eager to force even more belt-tightening on the Pentagon – traditionally a place safe from budget cutting.

That’s unsettling to some GOP old-timers, including Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona.

“We’re going to have to make a lot of reforms … but at the same time we are in two wars,” McCain said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I hope that some of my new colleagues on the other side of the Capitol understand that we’ve got to be very careful with cuts in defense spending.”

While the spending freeze highlights Obama’s budget for FY 2012, Republicans want to start cutting right now – including the budget that covers the last seven months of FY 2011. Without a “continuing resolution” providing funds for this year (Obama’s 2011 budget was never passed into law) the government could shut down March 4.

Boehner: More cuts coming

"Once we cut the discretionary accounts, then we'll get into the mandatory spending,” Boehner told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday. “And then you'll see more cuts."

Originally, House GOP leaders planned for about $32 billion in spending cuts for the rest of 2011. But under pressure from fiscal conservatives – including many new freshmen – they upped that to $61 billion, allowing them to claim $100 billion in saving from what Obama had wanted to spend for the year.

The Sunday talk show palaver and the documents thumping down on congressional desks Monday are just the start of the annual federal budget ritual.

“The president talks like someone who recognizes that spending is out of control, but so far it hasn’t been matched with action,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky said in a statement Sunday. “Americans don’t want a spending freeze at unsustainable levels. They want cuts, dramatic cuts. And I hope the president will work with us on achieving them soon.”


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