(CNSNews.com) - The House Budget Committee took up President George W. Bush's $3.1 trillion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2009 on Wednesday, eliminating several proposed cutbacks in spending. Republicans promptly blasted Democrats for supporting wasteful spending and ?the largest tax increase in American history.?
"Today the House Budget Committee is marking up the FY 2009 budget resolution, a fiscally responsible budget that returns to balance in 2012 while rebuilding America's future," House Budget Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) said of his proposal.
"The budget invests in proven programs to boost economic growth, provides fiscally responsible tax relief and help for struggling families, and provides the resources to make America safer," he said.
Spratt added that the "budget resolution complies with the House pay-as-you-go rule that requires all mandatory spending and revenue provisions to be deficit-neutral. The budget resolution also provides reconciliation protection for a repair of the Alternative Minimum Tax that is fully paid for.
"The budget contains initiatives to crack down on wasteful spending, and its deficit-neutral reserve funds will ensure that new initiatives are offset by reductions in lower priority spending," said Spratt.
Spratt noted, however, that "the budget rejects the President's deep cuts affecting a wide range of services and constituencies," including $150 billion of Medicare cuts over five years and billions in cuts to Medicaid, more than $18 billion over five years in new fees for veterans and military retirees, a 6 percent cut to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as a 16 percent cut to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The "budget cuts" in most cases, however, are actually just lower rates of increased spending in the programs. For example, Medicare's budget has been growing at 7.2 percent a year, and President Bush wants to curtail that budget growth to 5 percent a year.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), ranking member of the committee, said during his opening statements, "This year, the majority has already rejected Republican calls for a moratorium -- or even reform -- to reduce the wasteful, self-serving spending. In this regard, we can expect more of the same: another year, and another choice by the Majority of pork over paychecks.
"The first thing that this budget does is raise taxes. Any way you cut it, this budget includes a huge tax increase on workers, families, and small businesses -- many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet," Ryan said.
"The worst thing we could do in a struggling economy -- and struggling families -- is to raise taxes. But if we pass this budget, that's exactly what we'll be doing -- imposing on the economy, and on our constituents -- the largest tax increase in American history," he said.
"The problem is that we're spending far too much - far too quickly - to be sustained. But for all the Democrats' purported concern about the deficit, all they've chosen to do since they came into the Majority is spend more and more money," Ryan added.
"As disappointing as the Majority's plans are to raise taxes on every single American in order to finance more pork-barrel spending, their refusal to confront the looming entitlement crisis is equally troubling," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). "Medicare and Social Security are headed for bankruptcy."
"However, the Democratic Majority is playing the role of the ostrich on the challenge of entitlement reform, choosing to stick its collective head in the sand instead of working with Republicans to finally address this priority so Social Security and Medicare are there for future generations of seniors," he said.
"Full of gimmicks, tax hikes, wasteful spending increases, and lacking any reforms to entitlement programs or the taxpayer-funded earmark system, this Democratic budget is not even remotely fiscally responsible," Boehner said.
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