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The Budget Dance Begins

The annual budget proposal landed in Washington today with its traditional pomp and circumstance, yet the Democratic takeover of Congress makes the $2.9 trillion White House plan essentially dead on arrival.

But that doesn't mean the budget will be dismissed outright. Instead, this budget proposal will be debated publicly on Capitol Hill (and privately on K Street). And debated. And debated. And discussed. And then discussed some more.

The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees, Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), held three different press events today designed to trash Bush's proposals, one each on their own in the morning and then another together in the Senate Radio/TV gallery in the early afternoon. Across town, at least 15 separate federal departments and agencies were scheduled to hold press briefings to explain the impact of this proposal on their annual bottom-lines.

That's just the beginning.

Conrad will convene his full committee Tuesday morning to assess the costs of the Iraq war on the budget. Half an hour earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee will begin its hearing on the budget proposal and its impact on defense spending. And in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will appear before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss the budget plan.

That's just the Senate side.

Over on the House side, Spratt gets first crack at Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman Tuesday morning in the Cannon House Office Building, one of three House committee hearings tomorrow about the budget proposal.

So, for those counting, that's three press availabilities on the Hill today, 15 at the agencies, and half-dozen hearings in the House and Senate tomorrow.

By Wednesday, Paulson plans to lumber up to the Senate to appear before Conrad's committee -- and that's one of six more House and Senate hearings on the budget. And then Thursday, three more Senate committees and three more House committees take their respective whacks.

So, again, for those counting, from Tuesday through Thursday, there will be 18 different hearings on Capitol Hill to assess President Bush's second-to-last proposal for how to spend nearly $3 trillion in federal spending.

With so much to talk about, you would be forgiven if you thought this was a budget that leaders were looking forward to talking about. Not so, according to today's reactions from top Democrats. Instead, Democrats will take the spending blueprint and largely toss it aside, crafting their own version as they try for the first time in 13 years to pass the budget by the statutory deadline of April 15.

"Today's budget from the president is just more of the same fiscal irresponsibility and misplaced priorities; it takes our country in the wrong direction," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said.

"Its priorities are disconnected from the needs of middle class Americans," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

And don't forget, Congress still hasn't finished work on the current year's budget plan...

By Paul Kane  |  February 5, 2007; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Purse Strings  
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Next: In the Senate, No Doesn't Always Mean No

Comments

Defense spending up 60% since GWB first year. What a crock. I guess we know what the compassionate part of a "conservative" he claimed to be. Can our priorities get any more skewed?

Posted by: WOW | February 5, 2007 5:09 PM | Report abuse

more skewed? i would hope not, but i would not say it couldn't get worse - i'd be afraid to be proven wrong.

Posted by: meuphys | February 5, 2007 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Clinton slashed defense 30+% in each branch over his 8 years - where was the budget shrinking then? There wasn't - the money was dumped into midnight basketball, weak job corp programs, local police, and the V-Chip.

And don't you want to support the troops? Aren't you first to criticize Rummy for not enough armor for our heroes? Hypocrite!

Posted by: HILLAEYisAshemale | February 5, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Nothing is being done to combat global warming, health care, or any thing else of importance in this country because King George*s War in Iraq has sucked the oxygen out of the federal budget and environmental controls. Expecting to hide under the cover of Iraq, the governor of Texas announced today that he will put almost two dozen filth spewing coal smokestacks on line before the Democrats can pass and oversee tougher environmental legislation in spite of King George*s anticipated veto. OK. So when do the gutless Democrats fall behind Sen. Feingold, the only person in the Senate showing leadership and ethical concern for the troops and other American citizens? When do they pull the money spigot and end King George*s War in Iraq? NOW. When do they stop Bush from invading Iran with the same old rhethoric and nothing else that he used to invade Iraq? NOW. When do they use the money scheduled to *build schools, etc.* in Iraq to provide food, clothing, and health care for the disenfranchised in this country? NOW. When do they impeach the two headed hydra Bush/Cheney that thinks it was elected to be dictator...of the world? NOW. When do they use the information gleaned from the Scooter Libby trial against Bush/Cheney and add it to the other information of secret spying, corruption, treason, murder of over 3,000 Americans in Iraq? NOW. When do they demand that the war crimes trials begin? NOW. When do they demand the same justice for Bush/Cheney/and gang that Bush/Cheney demanded for Saddaam Hussein? NOW.

Posted by: cyngbond | February 6, 2007 2:56 AM | Report abuse

While I usually dont respond to mindless ideologues who are impossible to rationally argue with (hillaryisashemale) I must say this. Why do you think President Clinton slashed the military budget? Maybe it was because somebody finally realized the Cold War was over and money could be spent on other things. At the time we werent at war (kosovo/somalia didnt really count as a war). Also any who believes that terrorist attacks could have been prevented by a larger military budget should realize that it is the FBI and CIA and NSA that are responsible for that area. Their funding was unaffected. That is largely besides the point since by the end of his presidency the defense budget was almost back to where it was when he took office. And as far as the lack of armor for our troops go, maybe the military should allocate more money to body armor than to dead end projects that dont produce results. Perhaps their priorities should change or private contractors shouldnt screw over our troops.

Posted by: Moderates Unite | February 7, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Yes, every one knows deficts, and expanding federal debt, are bad policy! The "zero credibility" Federal Reserve, and finacial leaders (congress and administration) has left the USA with world's largest, and histories largest ever federal debts, and yearly deficits! Left us with historical record trade deficits. Left us with record "currency account deficits!" And leaves us with a depreciated USA currency, and lowered living standards! Every year it is worse, with more warnings! Nothing is ever done, but, yet it continues? Will it all end in one big final collapse? Liberty writer

Posted by: Liberty writer | February 7, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

We've heard "dead on arrival" before. When Clinton submitted his budget for fiscal 1997, all the Republicans said, "dead on arrival".

If Bush follows Clinton's blueprint, he'll veto all the primary authorization bills because they haven't taken seriously his original budget.

Then, the national mainstream media will fall into line and say that Pelosi and the Democrats "shut down the government".

Right? Isn't that exactly how the media spun Clinton's vetos, as "Gingrich and the Republicans shut down the government?" Clinton had on his desk a complete budget for the U.S., yet his veto meant the *other* side had shut down the government. I can't wait to see the institutional legitimacy and consistency of the major news organizations in play when it happens with the tables reversed.

Posted by: apetra | February 9, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

maybe someone can explain to me how the law does not apply to our president.,12 years after a president departs thewhite house his papers become open to perusal.
SOOOO where are reagans papers and george h w's papers.. explain it to the american people.,via your news print.

Posted by: paul | February 15, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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