House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) after a Republican… (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite )
Reporting from Washington — Republicans on the Hill are scoffing at President Obama’s budget, saying it’s riddled with gimmicks and “fiscal fairy dust” that hide tax increases and inflate the amount of deficit reduction.
The White House says the plan announced Monday achieves more than $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, through a combination of tax increases, Medicare cuts and a winding down of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Republicans quickly dismissed the notion that money not spent on the wars should be counted as savings.
“It’s a gimmick,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.) said Monday on a conference call with reporters. “This is money that was never intended to be spent, it was never requested. We shouldn’t be counted it as part of our total as if we’re accomplishing savings.”
The Obama budget counts more than $800 billion in savings from the wars and reinvests $230 billion in transportation projects, part of the administration’s spending aimed at juicing the economy.
GOP lawmakers said other elements of the deficit reduction proposal didn’t add up. The president counts $1.5 trillion in increased taxes, largely from the expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for top earners. But Republicans noted that the budget eliminates other tax breaks, adding $500 billion in what they consider tax increases.
Overall, the Republicans attacked the broader strategy Obama pursues in the budget: cutting the deficit by raising new revenue and making spending cuts over the long term, and trying to goose the economy with new government spending in the short term.
“The president continues to rely on a failed ‘stimulus’ approach and he ignores the threat that massive deficits pose to long-term economic growth,” House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
“This proposal isn’t really a budget at all. It’s a campaign document,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.)
Several Republicans noted the president’s budget does not make structural changes to Medicare, a major driver of the nation’s mounting debt. Ryan has promised to include a Medicare overhaul in the House budget for a second year, although he is expected to propose a modified version of the voucher-style program he proposed last year.