WASHINGTON — For the second straight year, House Republicans have used their budget to make a statement on what Rep. James Lankford calls their “core values.”
“I think it's the right thing to do to be able to put out a budget and say: ‘Here's the vision and here's the perspective,'” said Lankford, R-Oklahoma City. “It's what a budget is supposed to do.”
Similar to last year's GOP budget blueprint, the 2012 version approved last week would dramatically reshape Medicare and Medicaid and cut farm subsidies, food stamps, Head Start and a range of other domestic programs, while protecting defense from deep reductions. It also calls for broad tax reform to lower rates and eliminate some deductions.
Like last year's House budget, it's not going to get through the Democratic Senate. But it will survive as an election-year document that defines the differences between the two parties. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has embraced the budget, while the White House has blasted it.
“We're not going to get where we need to be as a country unless we're willing to address really big issues in a really bold way and go back and ask the American people, ‘What do you think?'” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said.
What Democrats think is that the GOP budget shows great sympathy for the wealthy and little for the needy.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, addressed Republicans' claims last week that their budget was bold and courageous.
“We don't think that it's bold to provide tax breaks to millionaires while you're ending the Medicare guarantee for seniors,'' Van Hollen said during House debate.
“We don't think it's courageous to protect big taxpayer giveaways to companies that ship American jobs overseas while we're cutting investments in education, science, research and infrastructure right here at home.”
The Republican budget of last year, the first to propose a Medicare system in which seniors of the future were given premium support rather than an open-ended entitlement, drew far more attention and controversy than the one passed last week.
The budget approved in 2011 came just months after Republicans took over the House, and it helped define their priorities. It also came at a time when there was intense interest on the debt and deficits.