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President’s budget proposal gets lukewarm reception from north country lawmakers

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President Barack H. Obama’s $3.77 trillion budget proposal, unveiled Wednesday, has been met with a less-than-enthusiastic response by federal lawmakers representing the north country.

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said the proposal isn’t likely to be embraced by either the House or the Senate – both of which have already introduced their own budget proposals.

“I would be surprised if this came to the floor,” Mr. Owens said, adding that he hopes some sort of compromise will be reached.

“I think they’ve now staked out their grounds,” Mr. Owens said. “Now they need to negotiate.”

But Mr. Owens said the president’s plan is not all bad. He said the budget proposal has many parts he strongly supports.

“It’s a budget that does reduce the deficit. I think that’s an important step,” Mr. Owens said.

The budget carries $1.8 trillion deficit reduction plan over the next decade.

“I want to see spending cuts and I want to see an increase in revenue,” he said.

The budget proposal would see $2 in spending cuts for every $1 of new revenue, thanks to closing loopholes and reducing tax benefits for the wealthy.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., also had positive things to say about the budget’s business focus.

“Overall, this is a jobs-focused budget that invests in infrastructure, education and scientific research; it will strengthen our competitiveness and help middle-class incomes rise,” Mr. Schumer said in an emailed statement.

Mr. Owens was also happy with a provision that would give small businesses a 10 percent tax credit when they hire new workers or increase wages.

“The concept is where we need to be working on,” Mr. Owens said, noting that he introduced similar legislation in February.

And while there is daylight between the president’s tax credit formula and his own, Mr. Owens said he is encouraged that the discussion is headed in that direction.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said in a statement Wednesday that she was pleased with the president’s support for universal pre-kindergarten that would be funded through increased taxes on tobacco products. But that’s where the praise ended.

Mr. Owens, Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Gillibrand were all firm in their objections to the president’s proposed $100 billion cut to Social Security – a cut made by re-calculating the cost of living adjustment for beneficiaries.

“I do not believe that Social Security cuts are needed or the best way to reduce our deficit,” Mr. Schumer said.

Mrs. Gillibrand added that cuts to Social Security are something she would “strongly object” to.

Because the president’s proposal includes another round of military base reductions and closures, Mr. Owens said, “For that reason alone it would make it very difficult for me to vote for the budget.”

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