A White House official, speaking on a conference call this afternoon, blasted the Republican alternative budget as an “unrealistic” proposal that was merely a series of talking points and a continuation of failed policies of the Bush administration.
“I don’t think this was designed as a real plan that could be implemented in this country,” Rob Nabors, deputy director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, said. “I think what this is a series of talking points that they were hoping nobody would look behind… I think this is an effort just so they can say, ‘We can magically create more deficit reduction than President Obama.'”
Later in the call, he said the Republican alternative looked a lot like the type of idea pursued by President Bush.
“While we do appreciate the details that have been provided, these details don’t look a lot different from the details we saw from the previous administration,” he said. “These are the same tried and true policies that have failed this country in the past.”
When given the opportunity, I asked how we can trust that Obama’s spending proposals on health care, education, and energy would produce promised savings, given that the president’s budget would increase the public debt to $15.4 trillion by 2019 even under the OMB’s own projections.
“What you have when you’re looking at the President’s plan is actually a real plan with tough choices standing behind that plan,” Nabors responded. “I think when you look at what the House Republicans put out today, you have a series of hopes about entitlement reform occurring, but they’re not actually taking any steps to implement those entitlement reforms. We see promises about tax cuts but no real efforts to actually pay for those tax cuts. You see what I would consider to be ‘funny budgeting’ when you start to talk about how unrealistic it would be for Congress to actually go back and repeal two major bills that they just passed within the last six weeks.”
He continued, “One of the things you can look back at is, whose budget is more likely to be passed? Is it a budget that has tough choices, but choices nonetheless, or a budget that seems to punt these choices simply to hit a bottom line that they desire to hit for public relations purposes?”
I then interjected, “But what tough choices are there in the Obama budget that would increase spending to $5.1 trillion by 2019?”
He explained, “I think what you’re seeing is that we’ve been very clear up front that we need to do things in the short-term to put the economy on a stable path going forward. We need to do things to jump-start the economy and protect and preserve the jobs that need to be created in this country. But in the long term, we are being very strict about slowing the growth of discretionary spending, we’re being very strict about slowing the growth of defense spending. And we have specific proposals, not everybody in the world thinks they are the most popular proposals, but they are real proposals to start to address things like subsidies for more agribusinesses. The alternative from Republicans is $24 billion programs over the next decade that are completely unspecified. At least we have put on the table the types of programs that we believe could and should be cut in the future to make our numbers add up.”
According to the White House’s own numbers, the Obama’s budget would add up to debt totaling 67.2 percent of gross domestic product by 2019. That number would be 82.4 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
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