Surprise! President Obama's Budget Is Fiercely, Immediately Opposed By Many Republicans
Ever since Republicans won back control of the Senate and the House in November, the United States has been bracing for some partisan headbutting between the president and Congress. Looks like we have our first major bout. On Monday, President Obama proposed a new $3.99 trillion budget for the 2016 fiscal year containing many proposals that the GOP is expected to staunchly oppose. Though Obama expressed optimism on Sunday night that Republicans might support the budget, many Congressional Republicans are already speaking out against it.
Obama's budget addresses many of the points he made in his State of the Union address by focusing on the American middle class, which is one of his main priorities for the last two years of his term. According to a White House statement, the budget is "designed to bring middle class economics into the 21st Century." An Obama administration official told Reuters on Sunday:
Our hope is that by laying out ... a clear economic vision centered around the middle class and economic growth, that we’ll be able to have a productive conversation (with Republicans) and make progress over the course of the year.
The budget foresees a $4.74 billion deficit but aims to stabilize deficits over the 10-year plan and hopes to reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion through healthcare, tax, and immigration reform — that is, if passed by Congress.
Given the main strategy of Obama's new budget, GOP support does not look likely. Besides planning to lift up the middle class by increasing their incomes and offering nearly $300 billion in tax cuts, Obama is proposing a six-year, $478 billion public works program to improve the country's infrastructure. And he's proposing to by for it by imposing a one-time, mandatory 14 percent tax on $2 trillion of corporations' overseas profits.
Other proposals outlined in the budget include tax credits for working parents; assistance for students; free community college tuition; investments in STEM education; and affordable housing and child care.
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman (and best known as Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012), commented on Obama's budget to the New York Times:
We’re six years into the Obama economic policies, and he’s proposing more of the same, more tax increases that kill investment and jobs, and policies which are hardly aspirational.
And during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, Ryan echoed that sentiment, accusing the budget of exploiting "envy economics."
I think it is a bad idea. You’re actually making it really hard for a family to pass on a family business to the next generation. So what I think the president is trying to do here is to, again, exploit envy economics. This top down leadership doesn’t work. We have been doing it for six years. It may make for good politics. Doesn’t make for good economic growth.
What it does do, Ryan said, is create more tension between classes. But the bigger picture here is that the budget prioritizes middle-class Americans and if Congress can't get behind it then they're essentially choosing the wealthy over the American majority who are in need of assistance.
Some Republicans, however, are having trouble seeing the bigger picture through the politics. Keith Henne ssey, a former economic adviser to President George W. Bush, commented to Reuters:
When ... he devotes his time and energy to talking about the new tax-and-spend policies that progressives like and Republicans universally oppose, he signals to Congress that he is once again looking to argue rather than to legislate.
But Obama's objective isn't to argue; it's to improve America's economy for middle-class Americans. So at the very least, like Obama encouraged, if the GOP opposes the president's proposals, then they should come up with their own.
Images: Getty Images (3)