Congress Gets Warning On Budget

Congress Gets Warning On Budget
May 12th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Congress Gets Warning On Budget

Congress Gets Warning On Budget
Washington Post
May 12, 2007
Pg. D1

By Lori Montgomery, Washington Post Staff Writer
The White House threatened yesterday to use the president's veto to prevent Democrats from increasing spending on education, health care and other domestic programs.
In a letter to lawmakers, the president's budget director, Rob Portman, said the administration opposed a spending blueprint nearing completion on Capitol Hill that is expected to authorize about $20 billion more for the fiscal year that begins in October than the White House has requested.
"The administration does not believe that the first step on a path to a balanced budget should be a substantial increase in federal spending," Portman wrote, "yet that is precisely what is called for by the Democrats' budget plan."
Bush cannot veto the blueprint, which needs only the approval of Congress to take effect. But he is prepared to veto any of 12 separate spending bills that will be needed to implement it, said Portman's deputy, Steve McMillin.
Democrats dismissed the threat as partisan posturing and said it would not affect negotiations that are expected to conclude early next week.
"After racking up more than $3 trillion of new debt under its watch, the Bush administration now pretends to be fiscally disciplined by threatening to veto appropriations bills because they include investments in priorities like education and veterans' health care," Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said in a statement. "It is time for the administration to work with Congress instead of stubbornly insisting on everything being done its way."
The veto threat signals the start of what could be a highly contentious battle over spending between the White House and the new Democratic majority in Congress. A protracted budget fight has the potential to shut down the government or force many agencies to operate without clear spending guidelines.
Most federal agencies have been operating without a budget since October, when Congress, then under Republican control, failed to agree on spending limits for domestic programs.
Democrats took power in January promising to fix the budget process and increase spending in areas that they argue have been shortchanged by the Bush administration, including public and higher education, health care for children and services for veterans. Like the president, Democrats have vowed to erase the federal deficit by 2012. But their plan would eliminate some of Bush's signature tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2010, to make room for additional spending.
In March, the House approved a budget plan that would add about $24 billion to the president's $2.9 trillion spending request for fiscal 2008. The Senate's version would add about $18 billion. House and Senate negotiators began meeting Thursday to resolve that and other differences. They hope to win approval in both chambers for the final plan early next week, clearing the way for the appropriations committees to begin drafting the actual spending bills.
Spending levels aren't the administration's only complaint with the Democratic blueprint. In his letter to Conrad and House Budget Committee Chairman John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.), Portman also decried plans to let some tax cuts expire, saying the resulting tax increase "would threaten the economy and job growth of the past four years." And he accused Democrats of doing little to rein in "the unsustainable growth in entitlement spending" on Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.

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