Colo. delegation split on Obama spending plan

Familiar party divide keeps fueling D.C.’s money bickering

Bennet Enlarge photo

Bennet

WASHINGTON – When President Barack Obama released his 10-year budget blueprint, Colorado’s Democratic senators and Durango’s Republican Congressman saw things differently.

Obama’s plan suggests nearly $300 billion in new spending and nearly $800 billion in new taxes. His plan also looks to trim more than $1 trillion from federal programs, including Social Security benefits.

The president’s budget, released Wednesday, includes a competitive grant program to encourage states to invest in energy efficiency and distributed generation, Sen. Michael Bennet’s office said.

The program is similar to a bill Bennet introduced last month, the Clean Energy Race to the Top Act, which would allow states, local governments or public-private partnerships to apply for grants to develop and enact clean-energy and carbon-reduction measures, a news release from Bennet’s office said.

“I’m glad to see the Administration include our innovative concept in the budget,” Bennet, D-Colo., said in the release. “Colorado is leading the way toward a cleaner, more diverse and more efficient energy system. In the absence of a cohesive federal energy policy, we ought to do everything we can to encourage clean-energy leadership and innovation at the state level.”

Bennet was one of eight senators who voted against the fiscal-cliff deal in January, saying the plan under consideration did not do enough to reduce the deficit.

Bennet did vote in favor of the Senate budget blueprint in March, however. That blueprint also included a nonbinding amendment to increase the federal firefighting budget by $100 million in 2014, sponsored by Bennet and fellow Colorado Democrat Sen. Mark Udall.

Udall believes Obama’s plan takes a balanced approach of both revenue and cuts, said Udall’s spokesman Mike Saccone.

“Sen. Udall has said all along we need a balanced approach to our budget,” Saccone said in a phone interview. “We clearly need to reduce the deficit, but we shouldn’t do that on the backs of hardworking Coloradans and the middle class.”

Udall also voted in favor of the Senate budget blueprint. He also voted for the January fiscal-cliff legislation but said then that the deal wasn’t perfect.

On the House side, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said the main issue should be putting Americans back to work.

The president’s budget continues to “spend more and tax more,” Tipton said in an interview in his office. “That shouldn’t be our goal.

“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘a day late and a dollar short.’ Well, the president is two months late with his budget and billions of dollars short,” Tipton said in a quick speech on the House floor. “It’s clear this president wants to balance the increase of government on the backs of the American people. He believes that government needs the resources more than hardworking Americans.”

Tipton voted in favor of the House budget last month. The House blueprint looks to balance the budget by 2023 by slowing the rate of spending on programs and decreasing the size of many programs.

Stefanie Dazio is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. You can reach her at sdazio@durangoherald.com.

Tipton Enlarge photo

Tipton

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