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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

GOP: Obama's missed budget deadline shows lack of leadership

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Photo - WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04:  U.S. President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One while departing the White House, February 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. President Obama is traveling to Minnesota to rally support for his new gun control proposals.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: U.S. President Barack Obama walks toward Marine One while departing the White House, February 4, 2013 in Washington, DC. President Obama is traveling to Minnesota to rally support for his new gun control proposals. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Republican lawmakers charged that President Obama's failure to deliver a budget by Monday's deadline is raising questions about his leadership and they vowed to pass legislation that would force the president to produce a budget on time.

"President Obama missed a great opportunity today to help our economy," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said on the House floor Monday. "This was supposed to be the day he submitted his budget to the Congress. But it's not coming. It's going to be late. Some reports say it could be a month late and that's too bad. Our economy could use some presidential leadership right now."

Obama's budget is meant to outline his spending priorities for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

This is the fourth time Obama has missed the budget deadline and the GOP used the occasion to try to turn the nation's attention back to fiscal issues.

Polls show the public agrees government spending should be reduced, but the debate over taxes and spending cuts has moved to the back burner in recent weeks as the president focused this attention on immigration reform and gun control legislation.

The Republican-led House this week will consider a measure that would compel the president to either produce a spending plan that balances the budget or submit a plan that would establish "the earliest fiscal year" by which the nation would erase its deficit.

"Because we know, and the American people agree, spending is the problem," Boehner said.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, told The Washington Examiner that the GOP bill stood no chance of passing in the Democratically led Senate but could help Republicans score political points.

"It's designed to point out that the president has run deficits for the past four years that exceed a trillion dollars or were near a trillion dollars," Holtz-Eakin said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Obama's refusal to produce a timely budget is undermining the economy and delaying the search for a path to eliminating the nation's $16.4 trillion debt.

"Reducing the debt will throw off the wet blanket that has been weighing on our economy for too long," McConnell said.

The Senate has not passed a budget in four years, but both chambers last month agreed to produce a budget by April 15 in exchange for raising the debt limit another three months.

A 1921 federal law requires the president to submit a spending plan to Congress by the first Monday in February, but there are no penalties for missing the deadline.

The president did not even acknowledge the missed deadline Monday. He was in Minnesota building support for legislation that would tighten gun laws.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that he had no information about when the president would submit a budget.

House Democrats on Monday responded to the GOP's criticism of Obama by accusing the Republicans of failing to produce a plan that would avert the looming automatic spending cuts known as the sequester, which economists have warned will drastically increase unemployment and potentially send the nation into another recession.

"Republicans need to stop governing by sound byte," said Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner