By Justin Sink
The White House blasted the GOP budget as "another example of the Republican establishment grasping onto the same failed economic policies" hours after the House approved the plan by a 228-191 vote Thursday.
Press secretary Jay Carney argued the budget favored the wealthiest Americans and did not represent a "serious attempt at tackling our deficits."
The plan, developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), has little chance in succeeding in the Democratic-controlled Senate, but politicians on both sides of the aisle see the proposal as an election-year lightning rod.
Republicans have argued that the plan represents a blueprint for the types of dramatic reforms needed to reign in out-of-control federal spending and budget deficits.
"I'm very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It's a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it's very much consistent with what I put out earlier ... I applaud it. It's an excellent piece of work and very much needed," GOP front-runner Mitt Romney said earlier this month.
But Democrats — including President Obama — are looking to handcuff Republicans to a budget they say would devastate Medicare and Medicaid programs on which the nation's poor and elderly rely.
"House Republicans today banded together to shower millionaires and billionaires with a massive tax cut paid for by ending Medicare as we know it and making extremely deep cuts to critical programs needed to create jobs and strengthen the middle class," Carney said.
The president is also hammering Republican resistance to trade budget cuts for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and certain businesses. Republicans in the Senate Thursday voted down a proposal that would have ended tax subsidies for oil companies, despite urging from the White House that the loopholes be allowed to expire.
"The Ryan Republican budget would give every millionaire an average tax cut of at least $150,000, while preserving taxpayer giveaways to oil companies and breaks for Wall Street hedge fund managers," Carney said.
The White House believes that by emphasizing some of the Ryan budget's more dramatic cuts — including deep reductions to funding for Pell Grants, Head Start and clean-energy programs — they can portray Republicans as being out of touch.
"Any serious attempt at tackling our deficits must be balanced, fair and demand shared responsibility. The Ryan Republican budget clearly fails that test," Carney said.
But Republicans see opportunity to position themselves as the responsible stewards of a federal government — and American economy — shackled by excessive debt and wasteful spending.
"We think America's on the wrong track. We believe the president is bringing us toward a debt crisis and a welfare state in decline," Ryan said Thursday on the House floor as debate on the budget closed.