White House: Republican Budget 'Doesn't Add Up'
The White House warned Tuesday that a new Republican budget plan did not add up, would hike taxes on the middle class or fail to cut the deficit and would be sure to hurt healthcare for the elderly.
The Republican blueprint was unveiled as both sides make opening gambits in a new budget showdown which will be highlighted as Obama mounts a charm offensive with visits to Democratic and Republican lawmakers this week.
"While the House Republican budget aims to reduce the deficit, the math just doesn't add up," President Barack Obama's spokesman Jay Carney said.
"By choosing to give the wealthiest Americans a new tax cut, this budget as written will either fail to achieve any meaningful deficit reduction, raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000 -- or both."
Carney said in a statement that the budget, framed by powerful Republican congressman Paul Ryan, would not close tax loopholes for the wealthy but make deep cuts to education and research.
He also said that the Republican approach would turn Medicare, the popular health insurance program for the elderly, into a voucher system -- an approach Democrats say would lead to benefits falling way behind healthcare costs.
"We've tried this top-down approach before. The president still believes it is the wrong course for America," Carney said.
Ryan, the Republican party's 2012 vice-presidential candidate, said his budget would alleviate the "crushing burden" of debt that is threatening America's future and would cut $4.6 trillion in spending.
It contains no new tax revenue and demands massive spending cuts, as well as major changes to cherished social programs like Medicare and Medicaid, in a bid to balance the budget within a decade.
Ryan on Tuesday described his plan as an "invitation to the president of the United States and to Senate Democrats, to come together to fix these problems."
"Show us how to balance the budget," he said.
Carney's comments, while excoriating the Ryan plan, also held out the chance for cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, while restating Obama's bottom line that more revenues as well as spending cuts are necessary.
"The president will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to grow the economy and cut the deficit in a balanced way," Carney said.
Obama, who was due on Capitol Hill later on Tuesday to visit Democratic senators, will return on Wednesday to meet the House Republican lawmakers. He is due on Thursday to have separate chats with Senate Republicans and House Democrats.