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Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 02/15/2011

Chris Van Hollen: Republicans 'opportunistic' in criticizing Obama budget proposal

By Felicia Sonmez

Pushing back Tuesday against GOP criticism of President Obama's 2012 budget plan, House Democratic leaders said that many Republicans taking aim at the president for not heeding the advice of his bipartisan deficit commission had earlier opposed the panel's creation as well as some of its recommendations.

Maryland Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, described Obama's proposal as "a tough love budget" and slammed Republicans who have criticized the president for not following the deficit commission's advice.

"I think it's at least a little bit opportunistic for Republicans who opposed the formation of the bipartisan deficit and debt reduction commission -- and then when every Republican in the House voted against it -- to be criticizing the president for not including more of the recommendations that they themselves voted against," Van Hollen said ahead of House Democrats' closed-door caucus meeting.

Van Hollen was referring to the three House Republicans on the deficit commission who voted last year against the panel's plan that would trim the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

Two of the three House Democrats on the panel also voted against its recommendations, including one of Van Hollen's colleagues in House Democratic leadership, Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Asked whether the House is likely to tackle entitlement reform this year, as House Republican leaders have indicated, Van Hollen reiterated Obama's statement stressing the need for a "bipartisan solution" but declined to offer any specifics.

"The president indicated both in his State of the Union address as well as in the statement that came with his budget that he looks forward to sitting down with Republicans and Democrats, the White House and the Congress to look at many of the longer-term issues including tax reform, including some of the issues, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, but looking at them in a way that strengthens those programs moving forward," he said.

Becerra said that House Democrats have "begun the process and we're willing to have that conversation on a bipartisan basis with our colleagues," noting that the national health care overhaul passed by Congress last year included Medicare reforms that will result in $500 billion savings over the next decade.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, argued that lowering overall health-care costs is the key to bringing down the expense of entitlement programs. She cautioned against considering Social Security changes as part of any deficit reduction plan.

"If you want to decreases costs in Medicare and Medicaid, it's about health-care costs coming down," DeLauro said. "We began that process in a very formidable way, and we will continue with that. I would just say that we need to make Social Security stronger; we need to protect benefits. Social Security should not be for deficit reduction."

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters on Monday that House Republicans plan to include entitlement reform as part of their proposed fiscal year 2012 budget in April.

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 15, 2011; 10:46 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Next: House Republicans: Obama, Democrats not leading on budget


Bill_usa, you are a loon. quite frankly you are scary and your grasp on economics is that of a brick. Please refrain from the _USA in your user name and replace with _USSR.

Posted by: tsch38301 | February 15, 2011 10:25 PM | Report abuse

The Transformers are mounting their second attack on America.

The Corporate Lobbyist Partiers who blew up a surplus and turned it into the highest deficit seen till then by funding two wars on debt and passing a large tax cut, 50% of which went to the wealthiest few percent of the population and who said "Deficits don't matter" have now transformed themselves into Deficit Hawks who NOW want to cut spending so much as to threaten investments in our country's future - investments in education, infrastructure and tomorrow's more efficient sustainable technologies. Without these investments the Transformers are jeopardizing America's future AND reducing our ability in the long run to pay off the enormous deficit THEY CREATED with their TRICKLE DOWN 'PROSPERITY' and their Dogma of DEREGULATION.

Recovering from the Trickle Down Disaster means we must have near term deficit spending and for the longer term we need to make the investments (now) to foster economic growth in the future to be able to afford the programs that are needed to address the challenges America must meet if we are to remain one of the leading nations of the world, as well as to be able to pay down the public debt.

The Republicans are again being duplicitous in their feigned concern for the deficit. Only a couple months ago they demanded continued tax cuts for those who can get along without them (and who, lacking an economic justification, never should not have gotten them in the first place, cf Bush tax cuts) as the price to provide sustaining Unemployment Benefits Extensions to millions of people thrown out of work by the Reckless Policies of these very Corporate Lobbyists, now transformed as Deficit Hawks.

Their real objective is to cut near term spending enough to kill off the incipient recovery stirring despite the Corporate Lobbyists successful effort to downsize the original stimulus (ARRA) by a third - as the price to be paid to keep them from killing (or delaying, which would have been the same thing) any stimulus at all.

Posted by: Bill_USA | February 15, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

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