House Dems roll out alternative budget with focus on defense cuts

House Budget Committee ranking member Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) unveiled a House Democratic alternative to the GOP’s 2012 budget Wednesday, hours before President Obama was set to overshadow the proposal with one of his own.

Democrats claim their budget cuts combined deficits over 10 years by $1.2 trillion more than President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal, which claimed $1.1 trillion in deficit savings.

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The House Republican budget claims to achieve $4.4 trillion in deficit savings compared to the Obama budget.

The Democratic alternative will be offered as an amendment to the 2012 budget, which will come to the House floor Thursday.

To achieve the cuts, Democrats look hard at the Pentagon. Part of the additional savings comes from spending $308 billion less on security and defense over 10 years. It also cuts $309 billion from overseas contingency spending, assuming that the U.S. is out of Iraq by the end of 2011 and Afghan forces are in charge of the war there by 2015.

Other details on how the Van Hollen alternative achieves the extras savings were unclear. 

Federal spending in 2012 would be $3.67 trillion under the Van Hollen plan, compared to $3.529 trillion under the GOP budget. President Obama's budget plan set spending at $3.729 trillion for 2012.


The Democrats emphasize the programs that they do not cut in their summary materials.

Like in the Obama budget, the House Democrats would freeze spending for five years at 2010 levels. They would not cut low-income heating assistance or Community Development Block Grants however. Mayors have been on the Hill for weeks lobbying against these cuts.

The budget would increase funding for food stamps and for infrastructure spending.

As expected, the Democrats use the budget to oppose Republican plans to turn Medicare into a type of voucher system and block grant Medicaid.

It includes language opposing any “privatization” of Social Security, though the House Republican budget authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) does not propose this.

Like Obama, House Democrats extend Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class but end them for the wealthy.

Read a summary of the Democratic budget here.