By Stephen Ohlemacher & Tom Raum, Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON (AP) — Top administration officials tried to steer President Barack Obama's new $3.8 trillion budget through a congressional minefield on Tuesday as the day-old plan drew fire from Republicans and Democrats alike.
In the first test of the spending blueprint on Capitol Hill, Democrats took shots at the budget's proposed hits on some favored programs, including cancellation of the U.S. mission to return to the moon and a spending freeze on Army Corps of Engineers projects.
Republicans generally contended it didn't go far enough to trim deficits while increasing taxes too much.
New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said Obama's promise to freeze some domestic spending for three years was more symbolism than substance. "Sure, it's the right sentiment but it doesn't get you anywhere," Gregg said. "It's small ball. It's not even a bunt."
However, in one sign of possible common ground, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., suggested there is budding bipartisan support for Obama's proposal to give companies a $5,000 tax credit for each new worker they hire in 2020."We need to work on legislation that will create jobs," Baucus said. "And we need to work across the aisle, so that the legislation on which we work can become law."
That sentiment was echoed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who told the Finance Committee he sees a consensus building among both Democrats and Republicans that "deficits matter, tax cuts are not free."
"The American people want to see their leaders coming together and bringing practical solutions" to the problems created by the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, Geithner said.