Divided Congress Takes Up Obama's Plans

Now that President Obama has laid out his budget and plans for reviving the economy, it's up to Congress to put them into action. But lawmakers are deeply divided. Democrats say the federal government should take the lead in turning things around; Republicans insist that's a cynical ploy to pump up big government.

NPR's David Welna speaks with guest host Scott Simon about the week ahead in Congress.

Obama, GOP Prepare For Battle Over Budget

Republicans are continuing their entrenched opposition to President Obama's $3.6 trillion budget proposal, warning that instead of spending, the government should be sacrificing to safeguard the future.

In his weekly address Saturday, Obama said he was ready for a fight.

"I know these steps won't sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they're gearing up for a fight as we speak," he said. "My message to them is this: So am I."

The president directly challenged the "powerful and well-connected interests" that have run Washington for what he says is far too long.

"I didn't come here to do the same thing we've been doing or to take small steps forward," he said. "I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November."

But Republicans aren't backing down either. In their address Saturday, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr stuck to the script that many in the party have followed.

"Every time Congress and the president spend a dollar, it's a dollar plus interest the nation's children and grandchildren will have to pay back," he said.

Burr and other Republicans are calling on the president to restrain spending, make tough choices and put the nation's fiscal house in order.

"Generations of Americans past have often been called on to make great sacrifices for their country. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice," he said. "Is it not time for government to make sacrifices for future generations?"

The president has faced criticism from both parties. Some Democrats don't like a provision to cut direct payments to farms with sales over $250,000 a year. And Republicans, along with a few Democrats, don't want Obama to end tax cuts for the wealthy.

In what may prove to be the understatement of the year, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday, "There isn't any doubt that this budget's going to be tough to pass."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.