Yet while Democratic leaders of the congressional budget panels offered alternatives to the changes they seek in the administration’s proposal, Republican lawmakers sit on the sidelines, offering no alternative, just the par-for-the-course carping criticism that has come to mark their opposition.
The new ad by Americans United for Change—a coalition of unions including the AFL-CIO, community, environmental, progressive and other groups—urges viewers to call Congress to support Obama’s budget because it:
…will rebuild our economy on a solid foundation. Jobs, health care, education, clean energy reform. On this foundation we can build real, long-term economic prosperity for all Americans.
During his nationally televised press conference last night, Obama said he wasn’t surprised Congress made changes to his original proposal.
We never expected when we printed out our budget that they would simply Xerox it and vote on it….The bottom line is that I want to see health care, energy, education and serious efforts to reduce our budget deficit.
says Obama’s budget is a carefully crafted blueprint to address the enormous economic challenges we face and help working Americans by making serious and necessary investments in infrastructure, health care, green jobs and clean energy and education.
This morning, Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said both the Senate and House budget versions follow Obama’s priorities to cut the federal deficit in half by 2013 and increase resources for clean energy, health care, education and other priorities.
While both bills establish a reserve fund for health care reform, they seek different ways to provide the $634 billion the Obama budget plan calls for as a down payment on health care reform.
In addition, the Senate plan cuts $15 billion and the House bill trims $7 billion from Obama’s request for discretionary spending on such programs as workplace safety, wage and hour protection, education, highway construction, transportation and other areas. If the funding?cuts survive in the final resolution, the specific cuts won’t be made until the appropriations process begins.
In a letter to the House Budget Committee this afternoon, AFL-CIO Government Affairs Director Bill Samuel says:
Over the last eight years, programs serving millions of working families have been the first casualties of the previous administration’s misguided budget priorities. President Obama’s budget proposal would restore critical funding for programs such as education, housing, nutrition, home energy aid, safety and health, and job training. We are concerned that any reduction in non-defense appropriations would result in continued cuts for these programs/
Meanwhile, Republicans in both houses offered up their usual scorn and criticism, but no alternative of their own to the eight years of co-rule with the Bush administration. During those eight years,?the television ad points out, the administration “turned our economy into a house of cards,” adding:
Last fall, that house came tumbling down.
Last night, when asked about the ”just say no” stance Republicans have taken on the budget, Obama said:
Their alternative is to stand pat and to simply say, “We are just going to not invest in health care. We’re not going to take on energy. We’ll wait until the next time that gas gets to $4 a gallon. We will not improve our schools. And we’ll allow China or India or other countries to lap our young people in terms of their performance. We will settle on lower growth rates, and we will continue to contract, both as an economy and our ability to provide a better life for our kids.”
That, I don’t think, is the better option.
The congressional committees are expected to finalize their budget resolutions by the end of this week or early next week with votes by the full Senate and House before they adjourn for the Easter recess the week of?April 6. A conference to iron out?differences between the two bills will follow the recess.