(AP) Obama: Proposed budget not his ‘ideal plan’
By JIM KUHNHENN
Confronting bipartisan criticism, President Barack Obama conceded Saturday his proposed budget is not his “ideal plan” but said it offers “tough reforms” to the nation’s benefit programs while closing loopholes for the wealthy, a mix that he argued will provide long-term deficit reduction without harming the economy.
In his first comments about a budget he is to release Wednesday, Obama said he intends to reduce deficits while at the same time providing new spending for public works projects, early education and job training.
Obama’s budget calls for slower growth in government benefits programs for the poor, veterans and the elderly, as well as higher taxes, primarily from the wealthy. Some of its details, made public Friday, drew a fierce response from liberals, labor unions and advocates for older Americans and prompted an unimpressed reaction from Republican House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH).
Obama proposes spending cuts and revenue increases that would result in $1.8 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, replacing $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that are otherwise poised to take effect over the next 10 years.
Counting reductions and higher taxes that Congress and Obama have approved since 2011, the 2014 budget would contribute to a total $4.3 trillion in total deficit reduction by 2023.
The key deficit reduction elements of the plan incorporate an offer Obama made to Boehner in December as both men sought to avert an impending “fiscal cliff” of automatic, across the board spending cut and broad tax increases
Obama’s plan has two central features — $580 billion in new taxes that Republicans oppose and a new inflation formula, rejected by many liberals, that would reduce the annual cost of living adjustments for a broad swath of government programs, including Social Security and benefits for veterans.
In his address, Obama said he would achieve deficit reduction by making “tough reforms” to Medicare and by enacting “commonsense tax reform that includes closing wasteful tax loopholes for the wealthy and well-connected.”
Obama, however, made no mention of the effect his budget would have on Social Security and on other social safety net programs, a key feature of his proposal and one that drew hostile reaction from some of his most ardent political backers.
Obama rejected a House Republican budget that aims to balance the budget in 10 years with steep cuts in domestic spending. His remarks reflected the White House’s argument that Obama’s blend of tax increases and spending cuts have widespread public support and will ultimately change the terms of the fiscal debate in Washington.
Still, Obama has been unable to move House Republicans from their opposition to higher taxes. And his proposed reduction in the growth of benefits drew swift objections from allies.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivered the Republican radio address, arguing that “the ideas on how to fix the federal government are now percolating in the states.”
Brownback, a former House member and U.S. senator, called for a “taxing structure that encourages growth, an education system that produces measurable results, and a renewed focus on the incredible dignity of each and every person, no matter who they are.”