ABC's Matthew Jaffe reports from Capitol Hill:
Office of Management & Budget director Jack Lew might argue that President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal has “a lot of pain,” but lawmakers on Capitol Hill – including some Democrats – say it’s nowhere near painful enough.
Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad today said the nation needs “a much more robust package of deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long term.”
“It is not enough to focus primarily on cutting the non-security discretionary part of the budget, which accounts for just 12 percent of spending this year,” he warned. “Instead, we need a comprehensive long-term debt reduction plan, in the size and scope of what was proposed by the President’s Fiscal Commission.
Conrad was a member of that Debt Commission that proposed ways to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over the next decade, but the White House proposal falls far short of that, making no attempt to wrestle with entitlement reforms, for instance.
Republicans predictably are far more vocal in their criticisms than Democrats that the White House hasn’t done enough to reduce the country’s soaring deficits.
“President Obama has failed to lead in the face of this growing crisis,” said the Senate Budget panel’s top Republican Jeff Sessions. “Today he submitted a budget to Congress that accelerates our dangerous trajectory. His budget increases spending every single year, eventually doubling the size of the entire government from what it was the day he took office. The president’s budget also doubles the national debt by the end of his term, and then triples it by the end of the decade. If we follow this course it will be a national tragedy.”
“The president has spoken in recent days about winning the future. But his budget reads more like a blueprint for losing the future. It puts us on the road to decline. It simply spends, taxes, and borrows too much,” Sessions said.
Other GOP senators echoed that sentiment, with many of them calling the proposal a “missed opportunity.”
“President Obama’s timid budget proposal represents a missed opportunity to lead,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX.
“Sadly, the President has missed a golden opportunity to have an adult conversation with the American people about the seriousness and urgency of our debt crisis,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, said. “The President’s budget falls far short of tackling our national debt in a serious way.”
“The president has missed an opportunity to show real leadership on the number one issue threatening our country’s future. Getting spending under control and reducing our deficit will be difficult without presidential leadership,” noted Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN.
“I still don’t see a sense of urgency from the president about the massive federal debt,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN.
“What will it take to get the President’s attention about the fiscal crisis facing our nation?” asked Sen. John Barrasso, R-WY. “Despite the American people’s clear demand for less spending, the President has drafted another budget that throws more fuel onto an already raging fiscal fire.”