Senate rejects budgets by Obama, Republicans
WASHINGTON — The US Senate unanimously rejected President Barack Obama’s proposed 2013 budget Wednesday and shot down a series of Republican alternatives, assuring a prolonged election-year fiscal battle.
The Democratic-controlled chamber has not adopted in three years a budget resolution, which lays out spending and revenue targets for the year ahead, and Republicans repeatedly highlight the fact as they hammer Obama’s administration for failing to take a proactive approach to fiscal responsibility.
The Senate voted 99-0 against Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget request, with Democrats stressing that the vote was unnecessary because lawmakers wrote spending caps into a deal agreed last summer to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
In March, the House of Representatives rejected Obama’s budget proposal in a 414-0 vote.
The campaign of Mitt Romney, the Republican challenging Obama for the White House in November, immediately seized on Wednesday’s vote as exposing Obama’s “unserious” efforts to combat budgetary challenges.
“With more than 500 members of Congress opposing his budget — and not a single one willing to support it — this president’s failures of leadership and fiscal responsibility are obvious to everyone,” Romney’s policy director Lanhee Chen said.
Obama is “clearly in over his head,” he added.
The president’s budget blueprint presented in February contained some $4 trillion in deficit reductions by 2022, combining tax increases for the rich with spending caps on some agencies.
An alternative Republican plan put forward this year by Representative Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, called for balancing the budget over three decades in part by deeply cutting some social safety services and reforming entitlement programs like Medicare.
The Ryan plan, too, failed to win enough votes to advance in the Senate, after passing the House one month ago.
Democratic Senator Carl Levin said the Ryan plan “does not address what budget experts of all ideological stripes tell us we must address: the need for additional revenues.”
Democrats have argued that there has been gridlock over a budget deal because Republicans refuse to accept higher taxes for millionaires along with spending cuts.
“Rather than restore revenue, this budget is premised on the notion that high-income earners haven’t gotten enough in tax cuts,” Levin said.