Republicans continue push for balanced budget

Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 3:28pm

Republicans continued the battle of the budget in their weekly address Saturday, dissing the Democrat-controlled Senate's recently proposed annual fiscal plan.

Speaking for his party, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah repeated demands for a provision to balance the budget and urged President Barack Obama to craft his upcoming proposal accordingly. The president's budget plan is set to release next month.

"We should spend only what we need to cover the constitutionally authorized functions of government and not a dollar more," Lee said.

Like the Senate's plan, the president's is not expected to include a balanced budget provision, either.

In an interview last week, Obama said he's not trying to "chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance."

"My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to work, and if we do that we are going to be bringing in more revenue," Obama told ABC News. "If we control spending and we have a smart entitlement package, then potentially what you have is balance - but it is not balance on the backs of the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families that have disabled kids. That is not the right way to balance our budget."

The Senate voted for several days on its proposal for 2014, which was first introduced last week. It is supposed to lay down funding levels for government agencies, but with spending levels already set as part of last year's debt ceiling agreement, this year's budget proposal represents a list of priorities for the Democrats.

Authored by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Washington, the proposal increases government spending and raises taxes on the wealthy.

While it reduces the deficit over 10 years, it stands in sharp contrast to the House budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, which the House of Representatives passed Wednesday.

The Ryan plan slashes trillions of dollars from government accounts and balances the budget in just 10 years.

"We have a moral obligation to future generations to make the people's priorities our priorities," Lee said in the GOP weekly address. "Again, this budget debate isn't about dollars - it's about common sense."

The Senate voted Thursday on the Ryan budget in what appeared to be a political move to show it could not pass. Fifty nine senators voted against it, 40 in favor.

By the same token, any budget the Senate passes is not expected to go far in the Republican-controlled House.

"Republicans recognize that keeping dollars, decisions, priorities and power in the hands of the people is what has made America the greatest civilization the world has ever known," Lee said. "Now is the time to return to that model."

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