Obama's New Budget Being Criticized By Right and Left Alike


WASHINGTON (AP) - Even before it is unveiled, President Barack Obama's new budget is opening to poor reviews from liberal allies entrenched in their opposition to shaving benefit programs and GOP opponents equally opposed to new tax increases. The double-edged criticism comes even though the plan reprises a framework that once held the promise of a long-sought "grand bargain" for reducing government deficits.

Obama's budget, two months overdue but to be released Wednesday, mixes almost $600 billion in new taxes over the coming decade with modest curbs on spending, including lower-than-scheduled benefit increases for people receiving Social Security. The wealthy would lose the full benefit of some tax breaks while the poor and middle class would gradually slip into higher tax brackets.

Presidential budgets are often declared "dead on arrival" and this one may be just the latest to get that label. But it differs from last February's campaign-year missive by proposing a new, government-wide inflation adjustment - affecting Social Security, veterans' pensions and the indexing of tax brackets - that has long been offered to Republicans in hopes of winning concessions on new tax revenues.

Democrats in Congress seeking to make the wealthy pay even more taxes have comfortably staked out turf as defenders of "entitlement" programs like Social Security and Medicare despite Obama's willingness to tame their growth. Top Republicans, meanwhile, aren't in a compromising mood on taxes after yielding in January to $600 billion in higher taxes on top-bracket earners over the next decade.

"Mr. President, if you are ready to embrace bold reform - to take the steps that are needed to make our entitlement programs permanently solvent and grow the economy - then Republicans are ready to work with you," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday. "The time has come to summon the political courage to move beyond the status quo, to put the tax hikes and the poll-tested gimmicks aside, and to do what must be done."

The White House has already revealed the broad outlines of the plan, which incorporates a budget offer made by Obama to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in December. Boehner rejected it and quit the talks.

"The president's been clear that it's going to take broad and shared sacrifice," Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in an interview with National Public Radio. "He would not find it acceptable to make only reductions in entitlement programs. That we need also to raise revenues so that we have a fair balance."

The White House says the Obama plan would cut deficits by a total of $1.8 trillion over a decade, reducing the annual red ink to the $500 billion range by 2016 and down to 1.7 percent of the size of the economy within 10 years. Obama presided over $1 trillion-plus deficits for the first four years of his presidency. But Obama also would do away with the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that were triggered last month, producing a net deficit reduction of just $600 billion.

The GOP-dominated House and the Democratic Senate each have already passed their own budget plans. The House blueprint would slash $4.6 trillion from the deficit over 10 years on top of the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts mandated under a 2011 budget and government borrowing pact. The Senate budget generally resembles Obama's except for the proposal for a stingier inflation adjustment, which is reviled by liberal Democrats.

"I don't like it," said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. "We've got to get to the reality of more revenues."

Some Republicans, however, welcomed Obama's overture on reducing the size of future cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs. "It shows that the president is willing to talk about some of these ways to preserve our vital but unsustainable entitlement programs," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Obama is expected to press his plan Wednesday night when he hosts a dozen GOP senators for dinner at the White House. For the most part, however, Republicans and Obama are still far apart.

Boehner complains that Obama is unwilling to consider things he was willing to do in the summer of 2011 - such as increasing the eligibility age for Medicare and cuts to the Medicaid health plan for the poor and disabled - when he and Obama held their first set of failed budget talks. Boehner and Obama are no longer talking, but they will have to in the not-too-distant future because Congress is going to need to increase the government's borrowing cap this summer to avoid a market-rattling U.S. default on its obligations.

Obama's budget also calls for increased spending, including $50 billion for infrastructure projects and a universal preschool program, financed by increasing the tax on tobacco.

It also reprises lower-profile ideas like higher Transportation Security Administration fees on airline tickets, the end of Saturday mail delivery and higher pension contributions for federal workers, hardy perennials of Obama's prior budgets that have been seen as candidates for inclusion in broader deficit deals that have never come to pass. He also proposes curbing farm subsidies and cutting $140 billion over a decade by reducing Medicare payments to drug companies.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Retirement Funds

Target date funds help you maintain a long term portfolio.

View Course »

Understanding Credit Scores

Credit scores matter -- learn how to improve your score.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

Get rid of Welfare. I am sure that will be a great savings. Make people work at whatever is available out there. Lord knows there are many jobs available that the immigrants will take.

April 10 2013 at 8:29 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Social Security and Medicare are not free handout, we have paid into them so that they will be there when one retires. For Obama to consider changing the formula to CPI to reduce cost of living increases to SS is rediculous. The so calle "experts" say that if we can't buy one thing we will buy the cheaper version. However, they forget that people on SS also have to pay the electric bills, heating bills, insurance bills (car and home) etc. All of these go up in cost yearly and at a greater rate. How does Obama propose people on fixed incomes to pay for all of these increases, there are no cheaper version. All of Washington needs a real reality check, its obvious they do not have a clue how everyday people have to deal with life.

April 10 2013 at 8:27 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

He may just be on to something.

April 10 2013 at 7:29 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


April 10 2013 at 7:11 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I wonder when he'll get up this morning after his big celebrity bash at the White House last night. He's lucky the sequester didn't harm his social plans. He knew all the words to all the sons the musicians sang! I'm so impressed! I guess that's one of the things that occupies his time, since this budget was due on February 1. My guess is that there will be no budget - then he can continue to throw money all over the world and invest in whatever he wants! You can't be over budget when there isn't a budget!

April 10 2013 at 7:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This man was never, never interested in a balanced budget.....he already knows it will be dead on arrival. He wants to take down America. A liberal socialist cannot be a patriot.

April 10 2013 at 6:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hrdbal51's comment

So bush was handed a surplus and ran the economy into the ground and left a great recession, you complain about Obama not cleaning it up fast enough.

April 10 2013 at 7:30 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dencuddy's comment


April 10 2013 at 7:45 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down

Apparently, both conservatives and liberals can agree that Obama does not have a clue as to how to manage an economy. Why did it take so long?

April 10 2013 at 6:41 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I like the man personally but the Robin Hood appraoch has to end with middle class people , what has happened to us with raises to our Blue Cross ( not entirely all his fault but Blue Cross is getting what they can out of us before they may not be able to rip us off under any new legislation). Raised us from $3100.00 every two months to $5100.00 in one year ( that is more than 4%); medicare is only a few years away for us, if they raise that age of benefits then we will be stuck getting ripped off by Blue Cross for a few more years. Too late to switch companies at this stage of the game and Blue Cross knows it.

April 10 2013 at 6:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

His brainstorm idea of taking form people that have work saved and paid taxes all their lives and then now wanting to decrease hard working peoples benefits plus allowing big health care providers like lLue Cross to raise paying customers by thousands per year ( that's alot more than the B.S. figure of 4% they gave when campaigning) that have faithfully paid taxes all their lives to give away to people that most have never put a dime into the system and have only taken so they vote for him again.

April 10 2013 at 6:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply