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NPR News

Budget Opinions From Just Outside Capitol Hill

LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

There was a lot of sniping in Washington this past week over plans to reduce the federal budget deficit. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan had a harsh assessment of President Obama's proposal, which would cut the deficit by $4 trillion in the next 12 years.

Representative PAUL RYAN (Republican, Wisconsin; Chair, Budget Committee): By failing seriously to confront the most predictable economic crisis in our nation's history, the president's policies are committing us and our children to a diminished future.

HANSEN: President Obama has his own objections to the Republican plan, which was approved by the Republican-controlled House on Friday but is seen has having little chance in the Senate.

President BARACK OBAMA: One plan put forward by some Republicans in the House of Representatives aims to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years. Well, while I think their goal is worthy, I believe their vision is wrong for America.

HANSEN: The views from both sides of the political aisle are clear, but what do average Americans think?

We went to the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. to find out. John Randolph, a retiree from Dunnavant Valley, Alabama, says he supports the president's proposal to raise taxes on the rich.

Mr. JOHN RANDOLPH: The wealthiest of us need to realize that they can't allow that underclass to grow. How you do that, I don't know, but you start by increasing taxes on the rich. That's one way.

HANSEN: Not for Boyd Blake, an IT manager from Provo, Utah, who's in town with his wife and four kids.

Mr. BOYD BLAKE: I think there's ways to do that but I don't necessarily agree that taxing the rich is the right way to do it. I think we should live within our means and we should cut spending.

HANSEN: Brittny Denton of Chicago works at a senior housing development. She says she wouldn't like to see cuts in entitlement spending but tough decisions have to be made.

Ms. BRITTNY DENTON: I can understand where Democrats are coming from, protecting the impoverished, but I also see where the Republicans are coming from in maintaining a productive society. Sometimes we do have to take cuts.

HANSEN: While there were differing opinions about what and how much to cut, just about everyone said repairing the budget should be a top priority for the government.

Mike Rights is a software engineer from Palmero, Virginia. He used the budget drama as a lesson for his children.

Mr. MIKE RIGHTS (Software Engineer): Yeah, I was telling these kids here walking by the Capitol earlier, I said in there sat 500-and-some-odd guys figuring out how we can borrow another trillion dollars from China. What do you tell these kids except they're going to be stuck, you know, footing the bill. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.