- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Spending cuts alone won’t save economy, Treasury head says
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congress on Tuesday against taking drastic austerity measures to lower the nation’s ballooning debt, saying the federal government also must spend money on job growth-related programs for the economy to fully recover.
Mr. Lew, defending President Obama’s budget plan before the House and Senate budget committees, said immediate efforts to strengthen the economy — along with medium- and long-term efforts to lower the debt and deficit — are vital because “families across the country are still struggling.”
“As this budget shows, we do not have to choose between the two, and indeed, we must not,” the secretary told the House panel. “We can adopt a powerful jobs and growth plan even as we embrace tough reforms to stabilize our finances.”
Mr. Obama last week sent his fiscal 2014 budget to Congress — a $3.77 trillion spending plan that would raise hundreds of billions in revenue by closing loopholes and raising taxes on smokers and the wealthy. It also calls for entitlement program cuts the administration previously resisted.
The president claims $1.8 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade, although the administration’s budget charts show the savings would be $1.4 trillion. About $1.2 trillion of that is devoted to reversing the automatic, across-the-board “sequester” spending cuts required because Washington failed to follow up on a 2011 budget deal with further deficit-reduction action.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, argued it’s impossible for the president’s plan to meet its goals without also taxing middle-income wage earners.
“If you want to get all this kind of tax revenue you’re talking about, it doesn’t just come from the movie star or the hedge-fund manager,” Mr. Ryan said. “It does, from your own budget’s acknowledgment, come from middle-income people, lower-income people.”
Mr. Ryan also complained the president’s plan would cut the top corporate tax to 28 percent from 35 percent, while small businesses would pay up to 39.6 percent.
“That, in our opinion, is unfair,” he said. “It hurts jobs.”
The Obama budget projects that debt, calculated as a percentage of the economy, will stabilize by the end of the decade but never balance in that span. By contrast, Mr. Ryan’s budget plan does come into balance in 10 years, and begins to lower the government’s debt burden.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the budget panel, said Mr. Ryan’s budget plan dangerously focuses on austerity measures over spending initiatives.
“The [independent] Congressional Budget Office projects that three quarters of the fiscal year 2014 deficit is due to slow employment levels, underemployment in the economy. So we need to be focused on that right now rather than pursuing European-style austerity in the budget, as our Republican colleagues’ budget does,” he said.
Mr. Lew said Mr. Obama made significant concessions to Republicans when drafting the budget, saying it incorporates “all elements” of the president’s offer to House Speaker John A. Boehner during negotiations in December to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
“This framework does not represent the starting point for negotiations but it represents a fair balance between tough entitlement savings and additional revenues from those with the greatest incomes,” Mr. Lew said.
Mr. Obama’s concessions include a proposal to change the way Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments are calculated. Some Democrats have pushed back at the so called “chained-CPI” policy, saying it would lead to smaller Social Security payments to many seniors.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- GOP tests Democrats on college loan issue
- Lawmakers outside intelligence loop get miffed about briefing structure in Congress
- John Boehner: Time is right to bring latest farm bill to House floor
- Supreme Court nears rulings on key voting rights cases
- John Boehner demands answers on NSA, phone records
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- Inside China: Marine's comment on islands draws sharp Chinese response
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Nancy Pelosi washes immigrants' feet in humble Holy Week act then promotes on Twitter
- Harry Reid blasts Bundy ranch supporters as 'domestic terrorists'
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.