Entries in Budget (130)


GOP Weekly Address: Sen. Mike Lee Says Budgets Are About Setting Priorities

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address, Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, says the  budget produced by Senate Democrats "grows the government, not the economy," while the budget passed by House Republicans this week "reduces spending and debt and balances in 10 years."

Lee begins the address by saying Senate Democrats finally took up its annual budget after not passing one in four years and says the president is "a day late and a dollar short" for announcing he will submit his budget the second week of April instead of the first Monday of February, as required.

The budget isn’t just about dollars, he says, it's about "common sense."

"A budget is the only way to end the nonsense of Washington’s out of control spending," he says. "Reckless government spending has laid nearly $17 trillion of debt onto the backs of hardworking Americans."

Lee says budgets are not only economic documents, but also reflect the nation's moral choices and shape its society for the future.

“That’s why the budget Republicans proposed in the House of Representatives puts its trust in the American people," he says. "We want dollars and decisions in your hands and not in the hands of bureaucrats. We know that if you can keep more of your hard-earned money, you’ll use it to help your community, to save for your child’s college tuition, and to deploy it in ways that will create jobs and grow your local economy."

Democrats disagree, he says, and instead think Americans don't send enough money to Washington. Their budget includes a one and a half trillion dollar tax increase, he says, "on top of the hundreds of billions they already added to your tax bills at the beginning of the year."

Lee says Democrats have no plan to save the nation's entitlement programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, despite the fact everyone, including the president, knows that doing nothing is not an option.

“Budgets are about setting priorities. Republicans realize that we have a moral obligation to spend your hard-earned tax dollars wisely," he says. "We should spend only what we need to cover the constitutionally authorized functions of government and not a dollar more. That’s why we support reforms to fix the programs Washington should be funding, to eliminate the programs it shouldn’t, and balance the budget."

Unfortunately, Lee says, the president cuts spending on important services such as border security, first responders, veterans and law enforcement.

“Republicans recognize that keeping dollars, decisions, priorities and power in the hands of the people is what has made America the greatest civilization the world has ever known.  Now is the time to return to that model.  Working together we can, we must and we will restore the greatness and prosperity of our nation," he says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


ICE Admits Releasing 2,000+ Detainees Because of Budget

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After two weeks of denials, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have finally publicly acknowledged the release of more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants for budgetary reasons.

On Thursday at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee, ICE Director John Morton admitted 2,228 were released for “solely budgetary reasons.”

Morton took full responsibility for the decision, saying it was an ICE decision, not a White House decision.

“And I take full responsibility for the agency, for the management of our beds,” he said. “And, as I have said and the secretary has said, you know, I regret that there is a level of surprise and questions about what we did.”

He testified that the decision was made to release detainees to allow the agency to “stay within its budget.” The other choice, he said, was to cut domestic investigators – money that is used to go after drug traffickers, alien smugglers, child pornographers and money launderers.

Of those released, 70 percent had “no record at all,” while 10 were classified as level 1 offenders – which includes aggravated assault and financial crimes. Another 159 were level 2 offenders, which includes those picked up for theft, larceny and DUIs; and 460 were level 3 offenders, which are misdemeanors and single DUIs.

Morton noted that authorities re-caught four of the level 1 offenders after releasing them, citing a computer error for their initial release.

“In some of those cases there was a question as to whether the records were accurately entered into our system,” Morton said. “And when I had all of them looked at, there were a couple where the computer record didn’t accurately reflect.”

During testimony, Morton said Texas had the most detainees released, although no level 1 releases.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


First Budget Plan from Democrats in Four Years

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling it "a balanced and fair approach" to solving the nation's red ink, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray on Wednesday officially unveiled the Democrats' budget proposal that focuses on both spending cuts and boosting tax revenue.

Murray said the plan would stand in marked contrast to what Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan proposed the day before, adding, "The American people...are going to be able to decide which approach is best for our economy, best for jobs and best for the middle class."

Essentially, the blueprint is what President Obama envisioned although it's highly unlikely any Republican will jump on board.

Among other things, the Ryan plan calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act, eventually switching over Medicare to a voucher system and establishing two tax brackets at 10 percent and 25 percent.

Murray, a Washington Democrat, and her colleagues don't propose any of that.  The first budget offered since 2009 calls for eliminating tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy and corporations and spending more on roads and schools to boost jobs and protect the middle-class.

The Democrats' goal is to protect the Holy Trinity of entitlements: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with some modest reforms to make them viable for future generations.

Essentially, $1 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years would be matched by the same amount in new revenue.  In addition to slicing $275 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, $240 billion would be cut from the Pentagon budget through 2013.

Murray told reporters, "That is a responsible approach.  It's a balanced and fair approach.  It's the one endorsed by bipartisan groups and experts, and it's the one supported by the vast majority of the American people."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan's Latest Budget Proposal to Be Unveiled Tuesday

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will release the latest version of his budget blueprint on Tuesday in an attempt to set the federal government on a course to balance annual revenue and spending levels by the year 2023.

Until now, the Wisconsin Republican and former GOP vice presidential nominee has never proposed a budget that balanced in a single decade.

Ryan will unveil the new plan at a news conference in the Capitol at 10:30 a.m. ET.  Ahead of the announcement, he penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal promoting his budget proposal, which he claims will cut the deficit by $4.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Will House Republicans Unite on Budget?

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- On Tuesday morning, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will release the latest version of his budget blueprint, setting the federal government on a course to balance annual revenue and spending levels by the year 2023.

Until now, the former Republican vice presidential nominee has never proposed a budget that balanced in just a decade.

“I wouldn’t expect big surprises from us [Tuesday].  We’re making some additional modest changes to get to balance,” Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters at briefing last week.  “We’re adding some other policies that finish the job, but I wouldn’t expect big surprises from us next week.  I don’t want to set irrational expectations.”

This time, Ryan points to two unlikely factors that actually help achieve the conservative goal: revenue and sequestration.

“Revenue went up significantly two months ago with the 'Fiscal Cliff' deal.  The baselines changed.  We’re not going to refight that fight,” Ryan said, referring to $600 billion in new tax revenue President Obama secured in the deal.  “We also have some lower spending and lower deficits in that baseline as well [as a result of sequestration].”

While Ryan is the chief author of the GOP’s budget proposal, he does not work alone and there are varying perspectives.  The Budget committee is a melting pot of lawmakers representing the interests of the House’s most powerful committees, especially the Ways and Means committee, which Ryan also sits on, and the Appropriations committee.

“The starting point is the budget,” Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, the vice chairman of the Budget committee, said.  “It’s our list of priorities, our list of the visions that we have for the country.”

But some GOP insiders confidentially question whether Ryan can pass his budget out of a committee markup this week.  Republicans hold a narrow 22-17 seat advantage over Democrats on the committee.  With Democrats ideologically against his proposals, Ryan can only afford losing two Republicans before a third dissenter stalls the resolution in committee.

“Ryan’s budget is facing opposition from many sides, including within his own committee,” one Republican congressional source said on the condition of anonymity.  “He loses votes on everything from Medicare and entitlement changes to his drastic discretionary cuts, and it will be difficult for him to pass his budget out of committee, let alone the House floor.”

While Ryan would not elaborate on any details from his new budget ahead of Tuesday’s release, there are reports he could raise the threshold at which people are protected from changes to the Medicare eligibility age.

On the House floor, Republicans hold a 232-200 majority, plus there are three vacant seats.  With 216 votes constituting a simple majority, House Speaker John Boehner and Ryan can lose just 16 rank-and-file Republicans.  Last year, 10 Republicans voted against the Ryan budget on the floor, but in the new session of Congress where the GOP’s majority is slimmer than the last session, Boehner has needed Democratic votes to pass several essential pieces of legislation.

At a pen and pad briefing last week, Ryan did his best to assure reporters that all Republican members on the committee are “unified.”

“Everybody sees it my way.  We’re all fine,” Ryan joked.  “We have members who have various priorities and preferences coming from different districts but on the point of getting an agreement that gets cuts and reforms, that gets us on the path to balance, we are completely unified.”

While some of the most conservative Republicans griped in the past that Ryan’s budgets did not cut spending quickly enough, Rep. Tom Cole, a member of both the Budget and Appropriations committees, called Ryan’s bid the “most aggressive budget by any majority in recent years.”

While meeting the spending caps could puzzle the appropriators’ work later this year, Cole urged House Republicans to rally around Ryan’s proposal.  He predicted it will ultimately pass, but also acknowledged the uncertainty ahead as the House prepares for a vote on the floor next week.

“We can’t have 20 members on each end of the conference dictating what’s going to happen.  If you satisfy 20 on right, you’re going to lose 20 on left,” Cole said in a phone call over the weekend.  “We don’t have much margin of error.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


House Likely to Pass Continuing Resolution on Thursday

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans unveiled a stopgap measure Monday to fund the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year, a move intended to mollify a deeply divided Congress that has fought through three years of bruising budget battles.

The continuing resolution, known around Washington as a CR, is subject to sequestration levels in its entirety, setting the top-line overall rate of spending at $982 billion, down from $1.047 trillion the previous fiscal year.

The CR keeps the FY2012 spending level as a base for 10 out of 12 appropriations bills, but notably, the legislation includes a full-year Defense appropriations bill, as well as a full-year Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill.  These two measures, which are still subject to sequestration, were negotiated with broad bipartisan support even though they did not become law during the last session of Congress.

Aides on both sides of the aisle say the funding tactic enables lawmakers to respond to changing circumstances or address the funding priorities of an agency rather than rely on existing spending plans that may have become outdated or impractical.

“The legislation will avoid a government shutdown on March 27, prioritize DoD and Veterans programs, and allow the Pentagon some leeway to do its best with the funding it has,” Rep. Hal Rogers, the chairman of the appropriations committee, wrote in a statement Monday. “This CR package is the right thing to do, and it’s the right time to do it.”

For example, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress the Pentagon has an $11 billion shortfall below the administration’s request this year for the Operations and Maintenance section of the defense budget. To close that deficit, the Defense appropriations bill included in the CR takes about $7 billion from Research and Development and Procurement and increases the authority for Operations and Maintenance by about $10.4 billion.

While in practice the rebalanced money for Operations and Maintenance cushions the effect of the arbitrary sequestration cuts, aides say legislators drafting the bill did not write the bill with the intent to offset sequestration.

“It’s just the right thing to focus on the core function of government: national security,” one House Republican aide said. “An $11 billion shortfall [in Operations and Maintenance] affects readiness.”

Democrats, however, contend that the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs are “not unique” to the funding challenges facing Washington. Rep. Nita Lowey, the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said it is “extremely disappointing” that the CR locks most of the federal government into “outdated plans and spending levels.”

“Governing by continuing resolution limits the ability of federal departments and agencies to respond to changing circumstances, implement laws enacted by Congress, eliminate unnecessary spending, and budget responsibly,” said Lowey, D-N.Y.  “It has an adverse effect on federal efforts to improve schools, health care, and homeland security; protect the environment; and create jobs and grow the economy.”

The legislation also addresses an apparent need for increased security, identified after the Benghazi attack in Libya, by including a provision to increase the current level for embassy security by about $2 billion. The CR also provides additional funding for federal prisons and includes a provision requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement “to sustain the mandated capacity of 34,000 detention beds.”

It also extends the current pay freeze for federal employees, which includes members of Congress and Senators, even though President Obama has issued an executive order implementing a 0.5 percent pay increase.

Despite an impasse over sequestration last week, House Speaker John Boehner emerged from a meeting with President Obama and other congressional leaders Friday, assuring reporters that a government shutdown is not in the cards.

“The House is going to move a continuing resolution next week to fund the government past March 27, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown while we’re dealing with the sequester at the same time,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said.

The bill is expected to be on the floor for debate on Wednesday and voted on Thursday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Debt Group Pans White House Call for ‘Petit Bargain’

Image Source/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As the sequester spending cuts begin to take effect, the White House Monday pointed to one potential silver lining: significant progress in the battle to tame the nation’s deficit and debt.

“The ‘big deal’ has been partly accomplished,” declared White House spokesman Jay Carney, when asked whether President Obama still had hopes for a sweeping deficit reduction compromise with Republicans.

Indeed, Obama and Congress have already signed into law roughly $2.5 trillion in savings over the next decade, including the so-called $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, more than $600 billion in new tax revenue and $400 billion in interest savings.

It’s more than halfway to the $4 trillion goal set out by Obama’s fiscal commission and embraced by both parties in August 2010.

So, what’s left to be done?  “It may be the ‘petit bargain,’ I guess,” Carney joked Monday. “If you, you know, go all French.”

Enter a prominent bipartisan group of debt and deficit experts, who aren’t laughing.

“If they won’t go big, we shouldn’t go petit,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told ABC News.  ”At least we could go medium.”

MacGuineas, who also heads the Fix the Debt campaign co-founded by Obama fiscal commission chairmen Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, said in the two years since policymakers set their $4 trillion goal things have gotten worse.

The magic number to trim is now closer to $6.5 trillion over a decade, she said.

“It’s jaw-dropping. It’s a painful reaction of when you wait to take action, the costs go up,” MacGuineas said. “That’s the amount of cuts it would take to bring us to the same level, putting our debt on a downward path.”

More sobering:  There’s little sign Obama and Congress will compromise to address the biggest drivers of U.S. debt.

“They haven’t done any of the tough stuff, any of the important stuff, they haven’t reformed the tax code,” Bowles told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl last month. “They haven’t done anything to slow the rate of health care to the rate of growth of the economy, they haven’t made Social Security sustainably solvent.”

Obama says he has a plan on the table to trim an additional $1.8 trillion from the deficit over the next decade through a combination of tax code reforms and changes to entitlement programs.  Experts say it would be a step forward but not nearly enough to celebrate.

“We support any plan that’s big enough to fix the problem. His plan isn’t,” MacGuineas said. “But you could super-size it.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Boehner Not Blinking in Budget Deadlock

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With sequestration set to strike on Friday, House Speaker John Boehner returned to the Capitol after a nine-day recess with no apparent change in his political posture: If the $85 billion cuts are going to be averted, Boehner insists, it’s up to the Senate to act.

Some lawmakers had returned to Washington Monday hoping for a “Hail Mary” attempt to avert the looming sequestration cuts.

“Time is running out,” Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., said on the House floor shortly after legislative business resumed. “The president should be working with House Republicans by engaging in the legislative process.”

“We only have four days left to go and our country’s overall well-being depends on it,” House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., warned.

But considering Boehner’s firm resistance to a Democratic proposal to offset half of the cuts with new taxes, the sequester seems certain to take effect untouched.

“The president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester,” Boehner R-Ohio, told reporters outside his office suite Monday. “Mr. President, you got your tax increase. It’s time to cut spending here in Washington.”

Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, called on both parties “to work together” to find a balanced solution. But he, like most Democrats, remains adamant that a deal must include new taxes in addition to targeted savings.

“Budget discipline is absolutely necessary, but damaging job growth and our economy to do so is self-defeating,” Hoyer said on the House floor Monday. “While many Republicans have been praising the sequester as a viable path forward, Democrats recognize this mindless policy for the danger it is.”

Boehner expressed hope that an eleventh-hour deal to offset the $85 billion across-the-board cuts could still be reached, but he continued to pressure Senate Democrats to vote on their proposal before any other options are considered in the House.

“Hope springs eternal,” Boehner said. “It’s time for [Senate Democrats] to act. I’ve made this clear for months now and yet we’ve seen nothing.”

When asked about the prospect for a solution last Friday, President Obama responded identically that “hope springs eternal.”

House Republicans voted twice during the 112th Congress to narrowly pass legislation to offset the sequester with alternative savings, but those measures languished in the Senate and expired with the end of the session. After House Republicans lost eight seats in the last election, a senior Democratic leadership aide doubted that Republicans have enough support within their conference to repeat the feat for a third time. A senior GOP leadership aide, however, said Boehner has the Republican votes to pass the replacement again.

“The House has acted twice,” Boehner said. “We shouldn’t have to act a third time before the Senate begins to do their work.”

Boehner also criticized President Obama for planning a trip to Newport News, Va., Tuesday where the president hopes to draw attention to some of the potential impacts of the arbitrary cuts.

“The president proposed the sequester yet he’s far more interested in holding campaign rallies than he is in urging his Senate Democrats to actually pass a plan,” he said. “Instead of using our military men and women as campaign props, if the president was serious, he’d sit down with Harry Reid and begin to address our problems.”

The speaker said he did not know how many jobs would be lost if the cuts take hold on Friday, but he warned that by continuing to ignore the country’s ballooning debt, potential job creation is threatened.

“If we don’t solve the spending problem here in Washington, there will be tens of millions of jobs in the future that won’t happen because of the debt load that’s being laid on the backs of our kids and our grandkids,” he said. “I came here to save the American dream for my kids and yours. This debt problem and the president’s addiction to spending is threatening their future.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan: ‘No Leadership’ from Democrats on Avoiding Automatic Budget Cuts

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., blamed the White House and Senate Democrats for failing to avert automatic spending cuts scheduled to take place next month, saying, “There’s no leadership on the other side of the aisle and therefore no agreement.”

“The Senate hasn’t passed a bill to replace the sequester. The president gave a speech showing that he’d like to replace it, but he hasn’t put any details out there. So that is why I conclude I believe it’s going to take place,” Ryan said on Sunday morning on ABC's This Week about the $85 billion in automatic cuts scheduled for March 1.

“What we’ve always said is let’s cut spending in smarter ways to replace this sequester,” Ryan told ABC News Chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl. “We [the House] passed two bills doing that and we’ve heard nothing in response from the Senate Democrats or the president.”

Congressional Republicans and President Obama remain at odds as the president seeks a package to avert the sequester that includes both spending cuts and new revenues. The House passed proposals to eliminate the sequester in the last Congress, but has failed to act during the new congressional term begun this January.

On Sunday morning, Ryan rejected a proposal by Senate Democrats to avoid the automatic cuts that included new tax revenues from closing existing loopholes.

“I’d be curious to see if they could actually pass that, number one. Number two, the president got his tax increases last year. He got those higher revenues,” Ryan said. “But taking tax loopholes, what we’ve always advocated is necessary for tax reform, means you’re going to close loopholes to fuel more spending, not to reform the tax code.”

Newly-appointed White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said finding savings in the federal budget was “not impossible,” but continued to stress the need for a “balanced” package that would protect the middle class by avoiding automatic spending cuts that would impact education, mental health services and the “devastating list of horribles” that would impact the Pentagon.

“We’re going to insist on doing this in a balanced way,” McDonough on This Week. “This should not be a social science experiment. This should be a question where we ask ourselves ‘what is most important to the economy, what is most important to the middle class families of this country,’ and that’s the way the president is going to do this.”

Beyond the sequester, Ryan said he is beginning work on writing a budget that will balance in ten years – which would require even greater spending cuts than the recent budgets Ryan has written and that House Republicans backed last year.

“I’m very comfortable with the fact that we will produce a budget that balances,” Ryan said. “The reason we want to do this is not simply to make numbers add up; we want to prevent a debt crisis, we want to grow the economy, we want to get people back to work in society and if we have a debt crisis, that is bad for our economy today.”

When asked about his own political future, including the potential for a 2016 presidential run, Ryan said he was focused on his work in the House, saying, “That to me is my first priority. That’s what I’m focused on.”

“Will I or won’t I? I don’t know,” Ryan added of his 2016 prospects. “I’m not foreclosing any opportunity. I may or I may not. I just don’t know because right now we just had an election. We’ve got jobs to do… We need to start thinking about doing our jobs after these elections than thinking about the next election.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Joe Biden Channels Newt Gingrich to Attack Ryan’s Budget

ABC News(SUN CITY CENTER, Fla.) -- While going for the jugular on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plans, Vice President Joe Biden borrowed words from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who’d called the Wisconsin congressman’s budget proposals “right wing social engineering.”

“Now, all of a sudden, Congressman Ryan says his budget doesn’t actually cut vital programs and slow growth. …  He’s changed his whole view. …  He said, ‘I do not cut those programs, I just slow the growth of those programs,” Biden said at the Sun City Center Community Association Friday.

“Well, that’s the same budget that has already passed the House of Representatives with every Republican maybe but one or two voting for it, and the same budget that nobody accused of being a liberal -- Newt Gingrich -- called ‘right wing social engineering.’ That’s Newt Gingrich’s words, not mine. And all of a sudden, that’s not their budget anymore. They already passed it!”

Shortly after announcing his presidential bid in May 2011, Gingrich called Ryan’s plan for Medicare “right wing social engineering,” “too big a jump” and “radical change” in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press.  "I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich said.

Gingrich later apologized, saying he used “language that was too strong” but whose “underlying principle … was right.”

Ryan defended his budget against Gingrich’s characterization at the time.  “Hardly is that social engineering and radical,” Ryan said in a radio interview. “What’s radical is kicking the can down the road, not doing anything to fix this problem and watching the whole system implode on itself.”

Since Ryan  joined the GOP ticket, Biden has used Ryan’s budgets to attack Mitt Romney.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the president said the day after the debate that Romney’s plans have become awfully sketchy. … I’m reluctant to correct the president on anything. But I would respectfully suggest they’re not sketchy, they’re Etch A Sketchy,” Biden said.  “You know those Etch A Sketch tablets that your granddaughters and grandsons have? Man, I tell you they’re shakin’ that sucker … and they’re dialing in a new sketch.”

Biden, on a two-day swing through Florida, a state he’s campaigned in eight times before and one that he predicted could solidify the election for Democrats, didn’t shy from encouraging his audience to participate in early voting.

“I want to remind you all, you don’t need reminding, but in Florida you can vote now.  Even before early voting starts on the 27th, just go to your County Supervisor of Elections and ask for an absentee ballot. Most places you can fill it out right there, and it is done.  And folks, if you look around the country, in places like Iowa, there’s early voting. I hope it keeps up, because we’re winning the early voting.

“We need you.  We need your help to win the state of Florida, and if we win the state of Florida, this election is over.  This election is done, so go out there now and vote.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio