By Erik Wasson - 02/14/11 08:37 PM EST
Congressional Republicans say the administration’s claim that its budget will reduce the deficit by $1.1 trillion over 10 years is an illusion resulting from budget gimmicks and overly rosy economic projections.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said his staff has identified $700 billion in "gimmicks" in the budget and that, without them, the amount by which the deficit stands to be reduced is closer to $300 billion.
And House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said overly optimistic economic projections by the Office of Management and Budget result in about $1.7 trillion in additional revenue, compared to Congressional Budget Office projections.
Ryan repeatedly dodged the question of what the Republicans’ plan, expected in March, will include.
Even as he criticized the president for failing to propose far-reaching entitlement reform in the budget, he would not say whether the GOP budget resolution would contain that. Ryan has been hammered by attack ads for proposing to convert Medicare to a voucher system.
“We have to have a family conversation to get consensus” within the GOP, he said.
“Many people thought the president would moderate after the election. ... We had hope for a centrist budget,” Ryan said. “We got a punt.”
Republicans estimate that instead of two-thirds spending cuts and one-third tax increases, the budget contains $8 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts, he said.
“It would be better doing nothing than actually pass this budget,” he said.
Ryan said that while he did not agree with everything proposed by the president’s fiscal commission, its plan gave him hope that things were moving in the right direction. The budget dims these hopes, he said.
Sessions said it could now fall to the House and Senate to solve the debt crisis, since the president is “not in the game.”
The two members also blasted the president for getting budget savings from what they said were gimmicky war projections. The budget baseline estimates a 10-year surge in Iraq and Afghanistan and then claims deficit reduction from drawing down the troops.