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Tri-State residents sound off on national budget

April 14, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com

A day after President Obama's budget speech on cutting spending and raising taxes, area residents Thursday expressed mixed opinions about how he and Congress are handling the national budget deficit.

Tom Montgomery, 68, of Hagerstown, said he supports the president because he does not want to see Medicare significantly changed.

"The Republicans want to stop Medicare. Well then how am I going to live?" he asked.

Montgomery said he also doesn't like it that Republicans favor maintaining tax cuts for the wealthy.

"Republicans have never been for the poor man," he said. "If they would worry about the average Joe and start taxing the rich people, the country wouldn't be in the shape that it's in right now."

Lisa Blumberg, however, said she is not happy with the way anybody is handling of the budget, and said she blames both the president and Congress. Blumberg, who was outside taking pictures Thursday, said she is unemployed.

"I can't find a job so I don't think Obama's done a very good job handling the budget at all," she said. "It stinks that some people can't get paid while the people who sit behind those desks are getting paid."

Alan Butts, 43, of Greencastle, Pa., and the owner of Barnwood Books in Hagerstown, said everything is affecting small business owners, so everybody needs to get on the same page.

 He said he disagrees with the president's budget plan, particularly his proposed cuts in defense.

"Cutting defense right now with having our hands in the pockets of so many countries is probably wrong," he said.

Ron Lytle, of Hagerstown, and founder of the Contemporary School of the Arts and Gallery, said he thinks the president is headed in the right direction.

"Things aren't looking good but I think it's going to take a turn," he said. "There's just a lot of controversy with what (the president) is trying to do and people not agreeing with him."

Ham Abuzayyad said he favored the president's tax plan but blames Congress for not solving the budget crisis.

"Republicans and Democrats need to compromise," he said. "But I think Obama's right about raising taxes on those who make over $250,000."

Abuzayyad, 36, of  Hagerstown, owns a hookah bar on South Potomac Street. He said the budget issues are affecting small business owners the most.

Joseph Uddin, another Hagerstown resident, said he doesn't believe President Obama is doing enough.

"I like what he said, but I don't see any action," Uddin said. "It's an uneven playing field for the people that don't have any money because (Congress is) taking things away from them."

Obama's budget plan calls for $4 trillion in long-term deficit reductions. In a televised speech Wednesday, he said spending cuts and higher taxes alike must be part of any deficit-reduction plan.

He spoke less than a week after he and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reached a compromise with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on a package of $38 billion in spending cuts for this year. Both houses of Congress passed the measure Thursday.

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