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Parties Split on Obama Budget, but Not on ‘Groundhog Day’

Hoyer and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle couldn't resist getting in a few "Groundhog Day" jibes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Hoyer and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle couldn't resist getting in a few "Groundhog Day" jibes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama has released his fiscal 2016 budget and the reviews are in: Democrats love it, Republicans hate it.  

Democrats and Republicans spent Monday trading jibes over Obama’s multi-agency spending blueprint  as well as the latest GOP attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle unable to resist using “Groundhog Day,” Bill Murray’s classic 1993 comedy, to hammer home their respective messages. “It is no coincidence that the White House released its budget on Groundhog Day,” said the House’s No. 3 Republican, Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, referencing the film in which a hapless weatherman relives the same day over and over. “The president’s budget is filled with the same failed, big-government, tax-and-spend policies of the past.”  “It may be Groundhog Day,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, piled on, “but the American people can’t afford a repeat of the same old top-down policies of the past.”  

The president’s budget never stood a chance of becoming law in a GOP-controlled Congress; its introduction this week, however, sets the scene for the cross-dome spending battles to be waged over the next several months, and also provided an opportunity for lawmakers on either side of the aisle to score points in the messaging war heading into the 2016 election cycle.  

Republicans also used Obama’s budget as proof that his promises to collaborate with Congress have been empty.  

“The President says he wants to work with Congress but everything he does indicates the opposite. His latest budget simply isn’t a serious proposal,” said Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.  

Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., a member of the House Budget Committee, called the president’s budget “laughable.”  

On the other side of the aisle, House Democrats also jumped on the “déjà vu all over again” theme.

But Democrats also praised the president’s budget proposal as one that would help average Americans grow and thrive. Fresh from their annual issues conference in Philadelphia that focused largely on honing their messaging for the next election, Democrats issued statements on Monday that drew upon similar themes and vocabulary in reference to aiding the middle class.  

“A budget is more than numbers; it is a reflection of our values, our priorities, and the vision we have for the future,” said House Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York. “Today, the President has presented a budget that will expand economic opportunity for all and renew our nation’s promise that anyone who works hard can achieve the American Dream.”  

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the House Budget Committee’s ranking member, had a nearly similar lead-in to Crowley: “The budget debate is not just about a set of numbers — it represents our priorities and values.  President Obama has put forward a budget that will boost the economy for all by raising the take-home pay of hard-working families — especially those in the middle class and working to join the middle class. ”  

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also stuck with the middle class-focused messaging that emerged from last week’s retreat.  

“When the middle class succeeds, America succeeds,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “We must have an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few … Middle-class economics are the answer.”  


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