Congressional Republicans are rejecting President Barack Obama's proposed 2013 fiscal year budget, saying he is shirking his responsibility to make the deep cuts necessary to reduce the $15 trillion U.S. debt. But Mr. Obama's fellow Democrats in Congress are praising the budget as a balance between higher taxes for wealthy Americans and pragmatic spending cuts.
Republican lawmakers quickly criticized President Obama's proposed budget as an election-year political document that avoids the harsh government spending cuts they say are needed to tackle the nation's fiscal problems.
Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming. "I believe that the president has abandoned his role as leader of this nation by not being honest with the American people about the significance of the national debt. As that is why somebody asked me if this budget is dead on arrival. I said, 'No, no it is not dead on arrival; it is debt on arrival," Barrasso said.
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Several Republican senators accused the president of playing politics, saying he wants to travel around the country to promote the popular parts of his budget, which they say he knows will never pass in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and is unlikely to come up for a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky criticized what he called the president's response to the country's dept and unemployment crisis.
"And what is this president's response? A budget he knows his own party won't even support - that is his response to this $15 trillion debt. So this is a charade!," McConnell said.
Democratic lawmakers praised the president for setting what they called the right long-term priorities. Several Democrats said a two-step approach is needed to, first, stimulate the still fragile economy with investments in infrastructure and education, and, second, to limit spending later when the country is on a more solid economic footing.
Democratic Representative Chris van Hollen of Maryland put it this way: "The president's budget is a budget that is good for the country. It is good for jobs; it is good in terms of nurturing a very fragile economy. It is good in terms of making long-term investments in education, in science and research, in innovation and the things that we are going to need for a strong foundation for the economy for years and years to come."
President Obama's budget would raise taxes on top income-earners and boost funding for American infrastructure, unemployment benefits and federal assistance to economically hard-hit states.
House Republicans are expected to propose their own budget legislation next month, which likely would reject tax increases in favor of deeper cuts in social welfare spending.
But with the House of Representatives controlled by Republicans and the Senate controlled by Democrats, analysts say the two chambers are unlikely to pass a 2013 fiscal year budget, and will likely put off any budget action until after the November general elections.