The budget President Obama delivered to Congress this week was presented as a compromise package, a path to some sort of “grand bargain” involving taxes and spending.
“I don't believe that all these ideas are optimal,” the president acknowledged. “But I'm willing to accept them as part of a compromise if and only if they contain protections for the most vulnerable Americans.”
Indeed, his budget did draw immediate sniping from Obama’s liberal base as well as from Republican lawmakers. A particular affront to the left is the tweaking envisioned for Medicare, revealed Friday in congressional testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The Obama budget also would change the way inflation is figured for Social Security recipients, and it raises taxes on higher-income households.
Speaking on behalf of her party, freshman Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) of Indiana called it “a blank check for more spending and more debt.”
“Even when the president’s budget offers signs of common ground – like modest entitlement reforms – he says he won’t follow through unless he can impose more tax increases,” Rep. Walorski said. “Worst of all, the White House says the president’s budget never balances – ever, failing to meet the most basic principle of budgeting for every family and small business.”
“The president’s budget isn’t a compromise; it’s a blank check for more spending and more debt,” she said. “If that were the answer, millions of Americans wouldn’t be leaving the workforce and asking ‘where are the jobs?’”
Walorski, who’s a member of the House Budget Committee, hammered Obama’s plan for its alleged tax impact: more than $1 trillion in new taxes, in addition to $1 trillion in new taxes from ObamaCare and more than $600 billion in tax hikes the president secured in January.
And she touted the House budget plan, including the claim that it would produce a balanced budget in ten years.
“First, our balanced budget seizes opportunities to support our nation of builders and get Americans back to work, through popular energy projects like the Keystone XL pipeline,” she said. “Second, our balanced budget repeals ObamaCare so we can address the problems it is causing – like making it harder to hire and driving up health care costs – and work towards patient-centered reforms. Finally, our balanced budget lays the groundwork for a fairer, simpler tax code. Closing loopholes and lowering tax rates for everyone would mean more jobs and higher wages.”
In releasing his budget, Obama claimed that he’d “already met Republicans more than halfway.”
“So in the coming days and weeks, I hope that Republicans will come forward and demonstrate that they’re really as serious about the deficits and debt as they claim to be,” he said.
To which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sniffed that Obama’s budget amounted to a “left-wing wish list.” House Speaker John Boehner warns that Obama’s entitlement adjustments are being “held hostage” to more taxes.
With that kind rhetoric, any budget “compromise” could be a long way off.