The Recession

Obama's Budget will Rebuild Economy on Solid Ground

| by AFL-CIO

A new ad (see video) backing President Obama’s budget blueprint
hit the airwaves today as Senate and House budget committees unveiled
their spending resolutions. Those resolutions followed much of the
administration’s outline but made significant changes in some
priorities.

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.

AFL-CIO President

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.