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Republican lawmakers look to budget as a means for unity in 2012

In the midst of a divisive presidential primary following an ugly year battling with Democrats on the debt, and between each other on the payroll tax extension, The Hill reports that Republicans in Congress plan to use President Obama's budget as a means to unite a battered caucus :

"Democrats were largely seen as the political winners of December and January as the GOP fumbled the payroll tax issue and Obama’s approval ratings improved.

February, Republicans believe, will be different. They claim that Obama’s budget will focus the nation back on fiscal issues, a traditional GOP stronghold.

While House Republicans are now crafting their fiscal 2013 budget resolution, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Friday that Democrats in the upper chamber will not try to pass such a measure on the floor. That decision has not sat well with some Senate Democrats. "

As it should being that a budget has not been passed by the Senate in three years. No exaggeration, Politifact sided with a statement made by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan last month that "Senate Democrats have gone without any budget at all" for 1,000 days, confirming in a "mostly true" ruling that; "It hasn’t been quite that long since the last Senate budget resolution expired, but it has been 1,000 days -- and counting -- since the Democrat-controlled Senate adopted a budget."

The RNC jumped on the milestone in an ad marking the 1,000 day without a budget just shortly before the President's State of the Union address.

Ranking Republican Senate Budget Committee Member Sen. Jeff Sessions slammed Democratic leaders on the issue in a statement last Friday.

“Majority Leader Reid is denying the American people the opportunity to become engaged in the debate about the nation’s fiscal future and the difficult choices we face,” Sen.Sessions said in a statement. “He obviously continues in his belief that it would be politically foolish for his members to go on record in support of any long-term vision.”

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post blasted Democrats on the issue in a post Sunday:

"This latest scuffle is indicative of the Democrats’ entire approach to the debt and our fiscal train wreck — kick the can down the road, show no leadership, put the government on automatic pilot and hope the voters aren’t angered by their refusal to do their job. What then is the argument for Democrats to retain the majority in the Senate? (We haven’t done our job in three years, so keep us in charge!)

The president is partially right about the do-nothing Congress. The Senate at least hasn’t passed a budget or tried to tackle entitlement reform. Senate Democratic incumbents should be forced to answer why, given that record, they should be given six more years."

Rep. Ryan is crafting a new budget this year with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, which offers a modified Medicare plan that keeps traditional Medicare as an option.

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), a member of the Senate GOP leadership team, told The Hill that he is still analyzing Ryan-Wyden, but acknowledged it has potential political advantages.

“From a political standpoint, the fact there is a marker out there with some bipartisan buy-in means it will be harder for Democrats to run away from the issue,” Thune said.

Last year, the President's fiscal 2012 budget was voted down by the Senate 97-0.

President Obama will release his latest budget plan next week, which The Wall Street Journal reports calls for $3 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, including $1.5 trillion in tax increases to fall mostly on the wealthiest Americans.

One last thing…
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