As congressional Republicans find themselves tangled over their newly introduced spending plans, President
Noting that Republican House Speaker
Obama said that his administration's policies, such as investing in manufacturing and the landmark Affordable Care Act, have helped the nation emerge from a deep recession but that the Republican budget would "double down" on the theory that wealth trickles down from the rich to the rest.
"Reality has rendered its judgment," Obama said in a speech to the City Club of Cleveland. "Trickle-down economics doesn't work and middle-class economics does," he said, using the White House's umbrella term for its fiscal policies.
Meanwhile, Republicans who have the majority in both chambers of
More than two months into the new Congress, they are grasping for legislative victories and looking to the House and
"Hopefully that will be an opportunity for us to show some success," said GOP Sen.
Republicans are trying to present a unified front in their budget proposals, as internal debates have spilled out publicly between defense hawks, who want to bolster military coffers, and deficit-minded conservatives, who prefer to hold the line on new spending.
Although both of the party's budgets largely boost military spending at the expense of domestic social programs, House and Senate Republicans are at odds over how to accomplish that goal while still adhering to strict budget caps agreed to in a 2011 deal with the White House.
Senate Republicans made clear Wednesday that they view the House approach as essentially a gimmick. It calls for hiking defense spending by increasing money for an account used for wars that was not subject to the so-called
Either way, those cause "real heartburn for conservatives" because they maneuver around the limits, Rep.
Those differences and others — including the House's proposed Medicare overhaul that the Senate rejects — risk leaving the GOP unable to pass one budget.
Such a setback would derail not only the goal of increasing
"I'm absolutely confident we'll do our duty," said Sen.
The GOP's scramble to make the numbers add up with concrete legislative proposals while Obama spoke in broad, aspirational terms further illustrated the contrast between the White House and Republicans who control Congress.
Obama no longer has to worry about being reelected, and since the November midterm election has made full use of the presidential bully pulpit to present his vision for the country without necessarily fretting over the short-term political consequences for him or his party.
On Wednesday, he said he wanted to "take a little credit" for the nation's economic recovery.
Republicans have been loath to acknowledge any role Obama's policies might have had in the nation's improved economic picture, with deficits on the wane and rising confidence among voters.
"Republicans are proud to take credit for helping force some fiscal responsibility on the Obama administration," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday as his party's Senate majority released its budget for the fiscal year that begins in October.
The White House countered that the House GOP is trying to balance the budget in part by further slashing investments that would benefit the middle class.
"House Republicans start their deficit reduction plan by promising large, expensive new tax cuts to high-income households," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "In fact, the only specific tax proposals in the House Republican budget are tax proposals that benefit the wealthy."
White House officials are eager to promote the notion that Obama has kept Republicans on their heels with a vigorous start to what he calls the "fourth quarter" of his term, a time when presidents often see their influence wane. Obama began the year with campaign-style trips in the run-up to a
Democrats who shied away from the president before the midterm election now praise Obama's approach. Some, including Sen.
"The president feels liberated," said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the assistant Democratic leader in the chamber. "He doesn't have to measure his actions against the impact on a campaign, and there are many things that he wants to say to the American people in the last two years of his presidency."