GOP Cool to Obama Spending Freeze

Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:23pm

Congressional Republicans are giving a cool reception to President Barack Obama’s plan to freeze nonmilitary discretionary spending for three years, with many chalking up the move to political lip service.

House Budget ranking member Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that the proposed freeze stands in stark contrast to “the past year’s explosion of government spending, deficits and debt,— which “has sent our nation barreling down a disastrous economic and fiscal course.—

He said he planned to reintroduce his own comprehensive plan on Wednesday aimed at tackling domestic challenges.

“At the least, I hope this proposed temporary ‘freeze’ represents a genuine acknowledgement from the Obama administration that their policies to date have only worsened an already unsustainable budget outlook and must be reversed,— Ryan said.

Obama is proposing the spending freeze — projected to save $250 billion — in the runup to his State of the Union address Wednesday night. It also comes as Democrats try to redirect their agenda on job creation and the economy.

Senate Budget ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) highlighted that news of the fiscal 2010 deficit hitting $1.348 trillion comes as the Senate is in the midst of debate over raising the federal debt limit to more than $14 trillion.

“These numbers are just staggering, and it appears that the sky is the limit for this tax-spend-and-borrow Democratic majority. Despite all of the dire news about our mountain of debt, the spending spree continues, and only lip service is being paid to the issue of debt reduction,— Gregg said.

Other top Republicans welcomed the news of a spending freeze but said it pales in comparison to the amount of Democratic spending over the past year.

“Just 41 days ago, [Obama] personally signed the omnibus which contained a 12 percent spending increase and proposed billions of new government spending as recently as yesterday,— said Brad Dayspring, spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), vice ranking member of the Budget Committee, applauded Obama for “finally heeding the call of the American people who have been demanding that Washington return our fiscal house to order.—

Still, the move is “a baby step in the right direction,— Hensarling said. “The president seems to be saying ‘stop me before I spend again’ as he and Washington Democrats are responsible for much of the spending the American people have overwhelmingly rejected.—

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain called it “laughable— that Democrats would tout fiscal responsibility given their ongoing effort to pass sweeping health care reform.

“If Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Congress were to heed the president’s call, does this mean they will shelve their fiscally reckless health care takeover?— Spain asked.

But not all Republicans panned the proposal. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who proposed a similar freeze in his 2008 presidential campaign, said he is supportive.

“We need to do it. I think it’s important, and I’ll support it,— McCain said on “Good Morning America.— But to have a real impact, he said Obama would also have to commit to vetoing appropriations bills with “pork-barrel spending.—