WASHINGTON — Republican members of the Louisiana congressional delegation were quick to criticize the president’s budget proposal on Wednesday, and the Democratic members offered cautious support with some reservations.
President Barack Obama’s belated budget blueprint was intended as a proposal that made concessions on safety-net programs such as Social Security to try to garner more support. The president’s plan is a $3.8 trillion budget proposal that raises taxes more on the wealthy and fails to balance over 10 years, the latter of which is desired by most Republicans.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, had some of the sharpest criticisms.
“While President Obama was on time with his Final Four (basketball) picks, his budget is a bracket buster for American families that is 65 days late, calls for more job-killing taxes and regulations, and never even balances,” Scalise said in a prepared statement.
Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, a physician running for the U.S. Senate next year, focused his attacks on the almost $400 million in cuts over 10 years to the federal Medicare program. The budget submitted by the House, which is dominated by Republicans, cuts Medicare and turns it into a voucher system, which Cassidy has argued makes it sustainable long term.
“It (the Obama budget) cuts over $300 billion from Medicare providers and $50 billion from seniors,” Cassidy said. “If the president embraced market-based reforms which encourage competition within Medicare, we would save billions of dollars and preserve Medicare services for current and future seniors.”
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who is being challenged by Cassidy, was one of the deciding votes for the Senate budget plan. She said she has not had enough time to compare it to the Obama plan.
Landrieu argued that the Obama budget needs many revisions, but that it offers a “balanced approach” with key investments in education, including expanded early childhood education.
“But, on certain issues, we strongly disagree, and as I always have I will oppose any attempt to turn our oil and gas companies into ATMs for the U.S. Treasury,” Landrieu said in listing her disagreements. “The oil and gas industry supports 300,000 well-paying jobs in Louisiana and provides energy security for the entire nation — singling out this sector for an unfair share of debt and deficit reduction is not the answer to our fiscal problems and will hurt economic growth.
“Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers in the budget is unacceptably low and dangerously short-sighted, especially considering the recent devastation of hurricanes Sandy and Isaac,” Landrieu added.
Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, called Obama’s budget a “reasonable and balanced approach that invests in the American people and in Louisiana, while also reducing the deficit.” Richmond has, in the past, said he is not yet ready to support big cuts to Social Security or Medicare.
“While I have concerns about the impact some of these proposals could have on Medicare and Social Security, I will work with the president and my colleagues in the House to preserve and strengthen critical programs that many of our seniors rely on,” Richmond added. “It is important that we all understand spending cuts alone will not address the larger need of job creation in an economy that is still recovering, nor will it prioritize investments needed in health care, education and infrastructure.”
On the other side, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, was quick to dismiss the president’s budget plan for including more tax hikes.
“I support the Paul Ryan budget because it puts our nation on a sound fiscal path by balancing the budget in 10 years, without raising taxes on American families,” Boustany said in a prepared statement.
Ryan is a Republican U.S. representative from Wisconsin who drafted the budget proposal supported in the House.
“I truly hope the president can work with House Republicans to create a budget that will fix our nation’s long-term problems. Unfortunately, this current proposal simply does not meet that standard,” Boustany said.