Obama delays budget until April, slams Ryan’s plan

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The White House announced Tuesday it would not release its budget request until early April, and unloaded on the GOP’s 10-year budget plan, which was designed by House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan.

Ryan’s budget would punish middle-class Americans by cutting taxes on the wealthy by a third, claimed White House press secretary Jay Carney. “The burden is doubled or even tripled on everyone else,” he claimed.

Ryan’s “voucherization” reform of federal health-care programs “does not nothing to deal with the fundamental problem, which is rising health-care costs, but actually exacerbates that problem,” Carney claimed, as he repeatedly reminded reporters that Ryan served as former Gov. Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate.

The White House’s budget maneuvering seems to clash with Obama’s much-publicized effort to show the public that he is trying to work with GOP legislators. That outreach included a lunch with Ryan, who declined to appear in front of TV cameras afterwards, and three dramatic visits to Capitol Hill this week.

But Obama’s efforts could help boost his poll ratings, which have lurched downward in the last month, as Obama tried to halt the sequester-related trims to the 2013 federal budget.

According to a McClatchy-Marist poll released March 12, 48 percent of registered voters disapproved of Obama’s actions, while only 45 percent approved. That’s a nine-point switch from December, when he had 50 percent support and 44 percent disapproval.

The White House’s attack strategy is aided by Obama’s decision to delay the release of his budget request until early April, or two months past the legal deadline. The lack of a White House budget focuses the media’s attention on Ryan’s budget, and hinders the GOP’s criticism of the president’s economic policies.

Ryan describes his budget as a cautious slow-down in federal spending. (RELATED: How Paul Ryan proposes to balance budget in 10 years)

“On the current path, we’ll spend $46 trillion over the next 10 years [but] under our proposal, we’ll spend $41 trillion,” he said in a Wall Street Journal article. “On the current path, spending will increase by 5 percent each year. Under our proposal, it will increase by 3.4 percent.”

The April date for the release of the White House’s budget was announced Tuesday by Carney, shortly before he insisted that the president’s late budget would contribute to Congress’ effort to complete a budget under “regular order.”

Regular order is the Congress’ standard process for setting a 10 year budget. It begins with the president’s submission of a budget request to Congress, and the drafting of a 10-year budget plan by the House and Senate budget committees. The next steps include the allocation of budget shares to specialized committees, such as the armed services committees, and it ends with a joint Senate-House conference to reconcile their budgetary differences before a final bill is presented to the president for his signature.

However, the president’s failure to submit a budget before the February legal deadline has forced the House and Senate to develop their own budgets without any proposal from the White House.

The delivery of a budget in April “will be an important contribution in what we hope will be a process of regular order in which compromise will be reached,” Carney claimed.

GOP officials disagreed.

“Rather than helping to lead Congress toward a reasonable outcome, it appears the president is happy to drop the bomb on the congressional budget process instead, by releasing his budget plan after — after — the House and Senate have already acted,” Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

But the late budget aids Obama’s overall budget strategy.

“The goal is to find willing partners who embrace a balanced approach to deficit reduction,” said Carney, using the administration’s euphemism for tax increases.

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