Budget chiefs: Not happy with Obama plan

By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The top budget chiefs from both political parties criticized President Obama's 2012 budget Monday.

Democrat Kent Conrad and Republican Paul Ryan, the budget chairmen in the Senate and House respectively, share one big beef: The Obama budget remains effectively silent on how to address the long-term drivers of debt -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

By the end of the decade, those entitlement programs, together with interest owed on the country's debt, could command most of federal tax revenue coming in the door.

Though ideologically different, Conrad and Ryan are both deficit hawks who sat on the president's bipartisan debt commission.

The biggest single measure proposed for deficit reduction in the president's plan is a five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending, estimated to save $406 billion over 10 years.

"We need a much more robust package of deficit and debt reduction over the medium- and long-term," Conrad said in a statement. "It is not enough to focus primarily on cutting the non-security discretionary part of the budget, which accounts for just 12% of spending this year."

That's why Conrad has been calling for a fiscal summit to be held with the White House and both parties in Congress. He'd like to see an agreement on a plan of attack before Congress votes to increase the country's debt limit, which could happen by May.

Obama in his budget acknowledges long-term fiscal stability can't be achieved simply by cutting discretionary spending. He has also said there is a need for a bipartisan conversation on entitlement reform, but he has yet to back the idea of a formal summit.

Ryan's criticisms of the 2012 budget request were sharper and more wide-ranging. In a conference call with bloggers on Monday, he asserted that the "[the president's budget] is worse than doing nothing." In his view, Obama's budget proposals raise taxes too much and cut spending too little.

Ryan is in the camp that says big spending cuts should be enacted immediately, while Conrad believes the economic recovery should be given a little more breathing room before any major cuts occur.

In that regard, Conrad says the president's budget "gets it about right in the first year. Even as it moves to cut spending, it continues investment in the critical areas of education, energy and infrastructure."

His and Ryan's opinion of the president's proposals matter because they will lead the charge in how Congress crafts its 2012 budget.

On Tuesday, the budget committees will start holding hearings on aspects of the president's budget request, and the chairmen will meet with their respective caucuses to help them decide what shape they believe the 2012 budget should take. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,192.26 -96.37 -0.53%
Nasdaq 4,978.63 -29.47 -0.59%
S&P 500 2,106.63 -10.76 -0.51%
Treasuries 2.12 0.04 1.82%
Data as of 3:45pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.05 0.04 0.25%
Apple Inc 129.36 0.27 0.21%
Ford Motor Co 16.20 -0.37 -2.23%
Cisco Systems Inc 29.52 -0.67 -2.22%
Micron Technology In... 29.73 -1.51 -4.83%
Data as of 3:30pm ET
Sponsors

Sections

The historically black school will cover 50% of the cost of a a student's final semester if they graduate early or on time, starting next year. More

Meet the FREAK bug. Old U.S. export controls on data encryption has come back to haunt us in the form of a nasty computer bug. More

In Buffalo, New York, the city is selling vacant homes for a $1 to those who are willing to fix them up and live in them for a few years. But as many buyers soon find out, the cost to renovate these super cheap properties can quickly add up. More