Obama’s Budget Faces Test Among Party Barons
WASHINGTON — What the Democratic barons of Congress liked best about President Obama’s audacious budget was his invitation to fill in the details. They have started by erasing some of his.
The apparent first casualty is a big one: a proposal to limit tax deductions for the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers. Mr. Obama says the plan would produce $318 billion over the next decade as a down payment for overhauling health care.
But the chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees, Senator Max Baucus of Montana and Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, have objected to the proposal, citing a potential drop in tax-deductible gifts to charities.
Billions in savings from cutting government subsidies to big farmers and agribusinesses? No dice, said Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who heads the Senate Budget Committee.
Mr. Conrad also panned the limit on tax deductions. And his criticisms of those savings proposals aside, Mr. Conrad said Mr. Obama’s 10-year plan would not do enough to reduce future debt.
Shrink spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? Representative John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, chairman of the House Budget Committee, suggested Mr. Obama’s proposals did not go far enough.
Cap industries’ emissions of the gases blamed for climate change? Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, who leads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, will have to contend with dissent on a panel with Democrats from coal and manufacturing states.
“The legislative process requires compromise and being open to different alternatives,” Mr. Waxman said.
© Janet Crain
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