Republicans lay down next budget challenge to Obama
The ink was barely dry on this year's belated budget agreement when House Republicans Friday laid down the gauntlet to Democratic President Barack Obama for 2012, dpa reported.
The House of Representatives, in a 235-193 vote, adopted a budget blueprint for 2012 that would allow total spending of 3.5 trillion dollars. That compares to Obama's proposed budget of 3.7 trillion.
Both blueprints would continue deficit spending - the right- leaning Republican plan's deficit would be just under 1 trillion dollars, while Obama's would be slightly higher.
Since left-leaning Democrats still control the Senate, which must approve any budget, and the White House, which must sign off on it, the measure seemed destined to go nowhere - or at least to be considerably changed in the coming negotiations.
But the vote rather symbolized the Republicans determination to reduce the size of government and its costs - a pledge they made when they captured the House majority in November and a theme that will likely drive the 2012 presidential elections.
The country is speeding toward its 14.3-trillion-dollar debt limit, possibly as early as May, and when that happens, Congress would have to raise the ceiling.
Even the blueprint fashioned by House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan and passed Friday would allow the debt ro rise to more than 16 trillion dollars next year and more than 23 trillion dollars by 2021.
Obama on Wednesday outlined a plan he said would reduce federal deficit spending by 4 trillion dollars by 2023, by making cuts across the government and ending Bush-era tax breaks on the highest income households.
But Republicans want deeper cuts in spending and have vowed to block any attempt to raise taxes. The Republican plan would cut the deficit by 6 trillion dollars in the same 12-year period while keeping the tax breaks in place and cutting back on medical care for the poor and elderly.
It wasn't until Thursday that Congress finally passed a budget for the remainder of 2011, after coming within an hour last week of partially shutting down government. It contained nearly 40 billion dollars in cuts.
The 2011 budget deficit is estimated at 1.6 trillion dollars, bringing the total national debt to 14.3 trillion dollars.