GOP Facing More Budget Heat, Left and Right

Randy Hall | Staff Writer/Editor | Thursday, October 20, 2005

GOP Facing More Budget Heat, Left and Right

( - With the U.S. House Republican leadership now pushing $50 billion in budget savings over the next five years in programs like Medicare, Medicaid and student loans, Democrats charged Wednesday that the GOP budget plan was "immoral and irresponsible."

Republicans on Capitol Hill and President Bush are likely to take a verbal pounding on Thursday as well from the leaders of several conservative groups upset over the massive deficit spending that has occurred under the GOP-controlled federal government.

The American Conservative Union, the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and the Club for Growth will hold a news conference to "challenge Congress and the Bush administration to rein in federal government spending." The sub-headline on an advance press release issued by the groups declared "Recent Republican Spending Cut Proposals Not Enough."

House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) did state on Wednesday that Republicans were hoping to increase their budget saving plan from $35 billion to $50 billion. And it immediately drew fire from the Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) criticized the GOP majority in Congress for having "misplaced priorities" but nevertheless promised to "take action" to "put America's priorities first.

"The American people are struggling with serious issues right now, including rising energy prices, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and preparedness for a disaster like avian flu," Reid said.

"If Republicans can find the time and resources to spend billions on tax breaks for special interests, they certainly should be able to find the time and resources to help working Americans, too," he added. "Democrats believe we can do better than ignoring these issues, and we have introduced plans to help."

Assistant Minority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) accused Republicans of being "committed to an agenda that benefits their party's special-interest friends," while Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) called for legislation that would "stop the price gouging" by oil companies and take money from the industry's "obscene" profits to reduce gas prices paid by consumers.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spoke about victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, "some of whom are pregnant women" and unable to get adequate health care. While lauding the relief efforts of private donors, Baucus asserted that only the government can produce the funding needed to properly address such emergencies.

Reid acknowledged there would undoubtedly be "some spending cuts," but he refused to list any specific programs that he felt needed to be looked at for savings.

The senators' strategy of bashing Republicans while offering few, if any, specific solutions was similar to the one used earlier by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). In a press release, she accused GOP members in Congress of "desperately trying to distract the American people from their culture of corruption and cronyism.

"The real problem with the Republicans' immoral and financially irresponsible budget is that it does nothing to address the concerns of hard-working Americans; instead, it gives tax breaks to Republican cronies," Pelosi said in her statement.

"Republicans need to get serious about the budget," she added, noting that the GOP "refused to join Democrats in supporting pay-as-you-go budgeting to share the sacrifices that must be made."

During their own news conference Wednesday, House Republican leaders stressed their commitment to "fiscal responsibility" while putting the finishing touches on the new budget. Blunt added that a proposal by House conservatives, for a 2 percent across-the-board reduction in government spending, has been put off until later in the year.

See Earlier Stories:
Health Officials Paint Grim Picture Regarding Flu Pandemic (Oct. 11, 2005)
GOP 'Spending Spree' Threatens Party's Grip on Power (Oct. 05, 2005)

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