When President Biden unveiled his Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal this week, he invoked the expression, "don't tell me what you value, show me your budget [and] I'll tell you what you value," suggesting that his budget makes clear that his administration values safety, security and fiscal responsibility. Oklahoma's congressional delegation sees it differently.
"You see where their priorities are," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) in an interview Thursday, "it's about pushing their socialist agenda more than it is about doing what's best for this country."
If it were up to the most progressive members of the Democratic party, President Biden's proposed spending on social programs would be broader -- this budget does not include some programs that had been part of the ambitious Build Back Better legislation. Still, it's too much for conservatives.
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK3) realizes the spending plan that Congress ultimately passes will likely look very different from what the president has put forth, "but it's always nice to see what the president's priorities are," said Lucas in an interview, "and clearly he wants more social spending, more taxes."
The administration said the $5.8 trillion budget puts a premium on security, by increasing funding for both the military and for police. It would raise taxes on billionaires and corporations, but Biden said not on most Americans.
"If you don't make $400,000," the president said on Monday, "you're not going to pay a single penny in additional federal taxes."
The delegation doesn't buy it.
"Inflation is a tax," said Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK5) in an interview Thursday, "I mean, Americans are paying more for energy, they're paying more for gasoline, for food at the grocery store. This budget, I believe, is just a continuation of the spending--tax and spend policies that Democrats have been focused on forever."
Deficit spending would decrease under this budget, but still would top a trillion dollars annually, with no plan to eventually balance the budget.
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1), is in the process of writing a budget for the House GOP, which he said will be balanced.
"We actually show how you can balance the budget, which is important to the American people," Hern said in an interview, "everybody in America has to balance their budget, our state has to balance their budget, why not the federal government?"
The last time Congress passed a balanced budget was in the final year of the Clinton administration, 22 years ago. Democrats had the White House, Republicans controlled Congress. Since then, Democrats and Republicans have each had six years of unified government, and neither party has been able keep expenditures from exceeding revenues.