The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 1, 2014

For Obama, an election-year budget without drama


Both the spending and tax proposals are long shots for legislative action this election year. But they are part of a unifying theme for Democrats eager to distinguish themselves from Republicans before voters.

Already both sides are using the outlines of their fiscal visions to set the terms of the election debate.

Obama, speaking to the Democratic National Committee on Friday, cast some of his budget proposals as part of a larger message of opportunity for all.

"Next week, I will send Congress a budget that will create new jobs in manufacturing and energy and innovation and infrastructure. And we'll pay for every dime of it by cutting unnecessary spending, closing wasteful tax loopholes," Obama said.

"Now, Republicans have a different view. Just last month, their party actually made it a part of their platform to let folks at the very top play by a different set of rules and avoid paying their fair share by stashing their money in overseas tax havens, a practice that also adds billions of dollars to our deficits every year."

A day earlier, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had offered a summary of his own of the Republican message, citing the economy and Obama's health care law as defining issues in the election.

"We've seen more and more that the president has no interest in doing the big things that he got elected to do," Boehner. "His budget apparently will make no effort to address the drivers of our debt and our deficit."

That probably will be a central GOP message Wednesday, the day after the budget release, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., holds a hearing on the president's budget.

The $56 billion wish list in Obama's budget is split evenly between domestic programs and defense. It includes an expansion of an earned income tax credit that currently primarily helps low-income working families with children. Obama's plan, which some conservatives embrace, would provide more tax credits to childless workers as well.

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