President Obama was targeting a potential GOP vice presidential candidate late Wednesday, vowing to veto a Rep. Paul Ryan-sponsored spending measure, charging it would hurt veterans, seniors and children.
The Wisconsin Republican, who chairs the House Budget Committee, recently rolled out a sweeping spending package that would reverse planned Pentagon cuts at the expense of social programs. The full budget panel approved the package Monday in a partisan vote, 21-9. The full House could vote on Ryan's bill Thursday, where it is expected to pass a along another party line vote.
The Ryan spending measure would targets food aid and healthcare programs, as well as a swath of social services for cuts that total more than $300 billion. It also would require federal workers to contribute more to their pensions and deny illegal immigrants tax refunds from a child tax credit, among other provisions.
Since Senate leaders have no plans to move a similar bill this year, Ryan's move is an election-year jab at Obama. But late Wednesday, the president swung back, saying he would veto the bill.
"The bill relies entirely on spending cuts that impose a particular burden on the middle-class and the most vulnerable among us, while doing nothing to raise revenue from the most affluent," the White House's budget office said in a statement. "At the same time as the House is advancing tax cuts that benefit the most fortunate Americans, [the bill] would impose deep budget cuts that cost jobs and hurt middle class and vulnerable Americans—especially seniors, veterans, and children."
Ryan, a favorite among fiscal conservative voters, has been courted as a potential vice presidential candidate by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. That makes him a big target for the White House and the Obama campaign.
The White House called the Ryan plan too "short-term" and dubbed it a "one-sided solution," and repeated its call for Congress to pass a "balanced deficit reduction package."
Several Washington insiders, like Clinton-era White House defense budgeting chief Gordon Adams, say lawmakers and the president likely will find a way to avoid the $400 billion in automatic Pentagon cuts that would kick in if Congress fails to find at least $1.2 trillion in federal cuts this year. An equal amount also would be triggered for domestic programs.
But those experts say such a climate will not exist until after Election Day in November.
Because those Pentagon cuts mostly would be made but simply cutting the same amount from various parts of the Pentagon budget—instead of prioritizing programs then cutting—defense leaders warn the automatic cuts will hurt national security.
Industry officials also warn of the dire effects the $350 billion in automatic cuts would have on U.S. defense manufacturers.
"More deep cuts to defense investments could cost over a million jobs and create enormous economic dislocation in thousands of communities across the country just as economic recovery is finally taking root," Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said in a recent statement. "In addition, these cuts would cede American leadership in a host of critical technologies, allowing our enemies to close the gap in stealth flight, air defenses, unmanned vehicles and surveillance and reconnaissance."
John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @BennettJohnT.