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Obama, GOP hunker down for budget battle amid tough economic times

January 27th, 2011

With it being the week President Barack Obama is expected to release his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, the newly-elected Tea Party Republican representatives have begun to make their presence known on the political stage.

Last week, the freshman members of Congress called for even larger spending cuts than Republican House members initially recommended.

The newly-elected members were elected under the pretenses that they would reduce the government’s role and cut spending drastically in an effort to stop the bleeding of the nation’s $14 trillion deficit.

“I think most freshmen (representatives) feel like I do, that we’ve got to do some big, big things,” Rep. Joe Walsh, a newly-elected Republican from Illinois, told reporters. “The voters sent us here to do this.”

While campaigning, the GOP promised voters that they would cut $100 billion from the federal budget – excluding non-defense programs.

In order to do that, lawmakers argued that roughly 33 percent of those government programs would have to be cut by the end of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.

However, on Tuesday, the House voted to restore spending for the next fiscal year back to 2008 levels, $40 trillion less than what the GOP originally aimed for.

Although the Republicans hold the upper hand in the House, it should not be forgotten the Democrats still own the majority in the Senate.

“President Obama will have problems getting his policy proposals enacted because the Republicans hold the majority in the House,” said Larry Schwab, a political science professor at John Carroll University.

“On the other hand, the Republicans cannot enact their agenda in Congress because of the Democratic majority in the Senate and the president’s veto power. So both parties must compromise to achieve any progress on legislation and the budget,” said Schwab.

Contrary to these recent efforts of the newly-elected officials, Obama plans on pushing for more government spending. Some of the spending Obama wants would be put towards clean-energy manufacturing, education and infrastructure.

In his State of the Union Address, Obama called for more spending in an effort to create more jobs and bolster American competitiveness with economies challenging U.S. supremacy, like those of China and India, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We seek to do everything we can to spur hiring and ensure our nation can compete with anybody on the planet,” Obama told reporters after a tour of a General Electric Plant in Schenectady, NY, on Jan. 21.

Although he has called for new spending, Obama has also proposed his own sort of budget cuts, yet they probably don’t match the magnitude that the GOP is looking for. The White House has said that GOP proposed budget cuts could stall economic growth.

According to Schwab, President Obama has two goals in mind with his proposals.

“First, he wants to gain favorable public opinion by showing Americans that he has more ideas about improving the economy. Second, he can use these proposals as bargaining chips in his negotiations with Republicans,” he said.

During his State of the Union address, Obama called for ending earmark spending and proposed a five-year partial budget freeze. He said this would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade.