A Tale Of Two Budgets

Just because there wasn't a government shutdown doesn't mean the budget battles in the Capitol slowed down. A look back at Congress' 2011 budget compromise and what's in the works for 2012.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

From NPR News, this is Weekends on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Guy Raz is away. I'm Noah Adams.

It was a tale of two budgets this week. Congress passed a budget for this year, fiscal 2011, that prevented a government shutdown and included 38.5 billion in spending cuts.

The president and leaders of both parties praised each other for reaching a last-minute budget compromise. But the good feelings didn't last long; when the president introduced his plan to tackle the country's long-term deficit problems, it drew this response.

Representative PAUL RYAN (Republican, Wisconsin): Rather than building bridges, he's poisoning wells.

ADAMS: That is Paul Ryan, the Republicans' point man on the budget. Ryan has introduced a plan for 2012 that cuts trillions in spending and fundamentally changes Medicare.

In his speech on Wednesday, with Paul Ryan sitting in the front row, the president responded to Ryan's plan, with this stinging rebuttal.

President BARACK OBAMA: They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors each to pay $6,000 more in health costs. That's not right, and it's not going to happen as long as I'm president.

ADAMS: President Obama's proposal includes spending cuts and tax hikes over the next 12 years.

And so the stage was set for the House to vote on the Republican budget plan. The plan passed in the House without a single Democrat voting for it. The back and forth can be head-spinning. The debate is not likely to cool down anytime soon.

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