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White House expects another budget battle

Feb. 12, 2012 at 3:57 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Obama administration says its upcoming budget proposal faces tough sledding on Capitol Hill due to resistance in the House that has paralyzed the Senate.

White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew said Sunday that the new budget proposal to be formally delivered to Congress Monday would likely be assailed in the conservative Republican-dominated House and then become bogged down in the Senate.

"The American people have realized is that it takes 60 not 50 votes to pass something, and there has been Republican opposition to anything that some Democrats have tried to do," Lew said on NBC's "Meet the Press. "So it is a challenge in the United States Senate to pass legislation when there is not that willingness to work together."

Lew said it was "unfair" to blame the Senate for inaction. "The positions that ended up tying the Congress in knots came out of the House, came out of the Tea Party wing in the House," he contended.

Nevertheless, Lew said, the White House was sticking to a strategy of cutting spending while also investing in the nation's economic future

"We set out last year to get $4 trillion in savings and this plan gets us there," Lew said on "Fox News Sunday. "It gets us there in a way that is consistent with a blueprint that we're building an economy that can last in the future."

Lew said deficit reduction should not be made at the expense of eroding the U.S. manufacturing base and education for workers.

"It will make sure we have American with the skills we need for the future, and it will make sure that we have an energy program that gives us independence," Lew added.

Lew also called for passage of an extension to the payroll tax rollback, telling CNN's "State of the Union" it was providing needed fuel for the economic recovery. "I think that it's clear that the economy's doing much better, but it needs to have that additional push that comes from this payroll tax," he said.

Congressional Republicans, however, predicted a rocky Capitol Hill reception for the plan and said Democrats had been reluctant to put Obama's spending plans up for a vote in the past because they were largely ineffective.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" he anticipated the Democrat-controlled Senate would not even come up with its own version of the budget. "Probably the only budget votes we'll have in the senate, which refuses to follow the law and pass a budget of its own, would be a House-passed budget and the president's budget," he said. "So I intend to offer the president's budget for him so he'll have a chance to get a vote on it."

Budget hawk Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the GOP-controlled House would unveil its budget proposal in the spring, but told ABC's "This Week" the White House was not offering much input that would lead to a compromise.

"Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and I are working on a plan to save and strengthen the program to keep the Medicare guarantee for current and future seniors," Ryan said. "What we're showing is that there's a consensus on how best to save Medicare. Unfortunately, the president and his party leaders, they're not a part of this conversation. And that to me is very disappointing."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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