Obama Threatens to Veto GOP House Funding Proposal

February 17, 2011 06:13

Even the Democratic chairman of Obama’s debt commission, Erskine Bowles, said the White House budget request goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare,” according to a report in The Washington Post.

The Americano

The Obama administration threatened on Tuesday to veto a GOP proposal to fund the federal government for the rest of FY 2011 as Democrats joined Republicans in Congress in criticizing President Obama’s budget request for doing too little to bring down the national debt.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) faulted Obama for not taking on entitlement reform, and during testimony by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jack Lew, suggested the administration was not being serious enough about reducing the deficit.

And Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of Conrad’s panel, said Obama should have followed through on the recommendations of his own debt commission, which in December proposed nearly $4 trillion in cuts over the next decade that included reforms to Medicare, Social Security and the tax code.

Earlier in the day, in a statement of administration policy, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said cuts included in the Republican continuing resolution would hamstring the U.S. economy and compromise national security.

“If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill,” the statement said.

That did not deter Republicans and Democrats from criticizing Lew and President Obama, according to The Hill. Sen. Coons said the deficit commission named by the president himself “laid out the kind of strong, broad vision that we need to take on not just the deficit but the debt.”

“I think in large part, the strongest work of the commission is absent in this budget,” he said.

The Daily that covers Congress added that House Republicans continued their harsh criticism of President Barack Obama’s FY 2012 budget for a second straight day, as Lew testified before both Conrad’s committee and the House Budget panel led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who will be writing his own budget for 2012.

Ryan said Obama had squandered a prime opportunity to deal with the country’s “crippling burden of debt.”

“Why did you duck?” Ryan asked Lew at the hearing. “Why did you not take this opportunity to lead?”

Even the Democratic chairman of Obama’s debt commission, Erskine Bowles, said the White House budget request goes “nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare,” according to a report in The Washington Post.

The tough criticism left Obama playing defense, The Hill said.

At a surprise press conference on Tuesday, Obama defended his budget as a starting point and pleaded for patience. “You guys are pretty impatient,” he told reporters. “If something doesn’t happen today, then the assumption is it’s just not going to happen.”

Obama insisted the fact that his proposal did not include entitlement and tax reforms recommended by his debt commission only a month ago did not mean the panel’s proposals had been left to die.

“The notion that it has been shelved, I think, is incorrect,” Obama said.

The president also pressed the message that his proposal was a more responsible way of getting the budget deficit under control than what Republicans are offering. Republicans have accused the administration of using rosy economic scenarios and gimmicks to find $1.1 trillion in savings over the next decade.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Ryan promised that when they offer a budget for 2012, it will include entitlement reforms.

In the House, Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sought to defend Obama and attack Republicans, whom he said were irresponsible in looking to slash at least $61 billion in discretionary spending this year.

The White House said the cuts in the GOP plan “will undermine our ability to out-educate, out-build, and out-innovate the rest of the world.”

Obama’s threat to veto the GOP’s FY 2011 budget sets up the possibility for a showdown between the administration and Democrats in the Senate with the GOP-held House over the measure. Funding for the government’s day-to-day operations runs out on March 4, and without some sort of short-term fix, the federal government would risk shutting down.

The chairman of the House Budget Committee said Tuesday morning the government would pass a short-term continuing resolution rather than risking a shutdown.

The Americano/Agencies

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