Budget climate changes in Congress

Budget proposals unveiled by Democrats in Congress this week make some significant changes from the budget President Barack Obama submitted last month.

But they still involve record-setting deficits and many of the budget gimmickry that Obama said he wants to eliminate.

The budget plans come on the heels of an analysis released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office last weekend. That analysis spooked many Democrats while confirming what many Republicans had been saying — that the president’s budget would be far more costly than he claimed. The CBO report said that annual deficits under Obama’s budget plan would be much higher over the next 10 years than the president had projected — nearing a combined total of $10 trillion.

As a result, 12 Democratic senators sent a letter to Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., head of the budget committee, declaring that the projected deficits “are simply not acceptable.”

In response, Conrad and his counterparts in the House released budget plans that cut Obama’s proposed spending and some of his favored programs.

Gone in the Senate bill is more money for the president’s bank bailout efforts. Also gone is money for his ambitious cap-and-trade plan to address climate change, a plan that would amount to a massive energy tax for all Americans.

Additionally, there would be no extra money for launching Obama’s massive health care reform.

Both the Senate and House budgets say the president’s health care proposal can move forward only if it remains revenue neutral. In other words, taxes will have to be raised or other spending cut to fund the plan, which is estimated to cost more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Massive tax increases or spending cuts are far more difficult to enact than deficit spending.

Also to be eliminated in two years under the Senate bill is Obama’s much-ballyhooed tax credit of $800 for working class families. Apparently, campaign concern for the working class can’t be sustained in the face of massive budget deficits.

Both the House and Senate budget measures would still rack up trillions in annual deficits, which is why Republicans are blasting the plans.

But the Democratic budget plans also contain substantial reductions from what the president proposed, and that’s worth noting.

At a time when even European leaders say the United States is spending money too fast and furiously, it’s welcome to see that Democrats in Congress aren’t willing to give a blank check to a very popular president.


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