Tags: obama | budget | economy

Obama: Proposed Budget Not His 'Ideal Plan'

Saturday, 06 Apr 2013 09:33 AM

 

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WASHINGTON — Confronting bipartisan criticism, President Barack Obama conceded Saturday his proposed budget is not his "ideal plan."

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.

"We don't have to choose between these goals - we can do both," Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address.

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.

"It's a compromise I'm willing to accept in order to move beyond a cycle of short-term, crisis-driven decision-making, and focus on growing our economy and our middle class for the long run," Obama said.

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But the president's plan has drawn a fierce response from liberals, labor unions and advocates for older Americans and prompted an unimpressed reaction from Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Progressives have attacked the budget for its proposed cuts to Social Security and other entitlement programs. Liberal groups have vowed to "do everything possible" to scuttle the president's budget and to back primary challenges of Democrats who support it.

Republicans have criticized the budget for proposed budget because it calls for higher taxes.

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.

"My budget will reduce our deficits not with aimless, reckless spending cuts that hurt students and seniors and middle-class families — but through the balanced approach that the American people prefer, and the investments that a growing economy demands," he said.

Still, Obama has been unable to move House Republicans from their opposition to higher taxes.

"If the president believes these modest entitlement savings are needed to help shore up these programs, there's no reason they should be held hostage for more tax hikes. That's no way to lead and move the country forward," Boehner said in a statement.

And his proposed reduction in the growth of benefits drew swift objections from allies.

"The president should drop these misguided cuts in benefits and focus instead on building support in Congress for investing in jobs," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Friday.

“You can’t call yourself a Democrat and support Social Security benefit cuts,” Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told Salon.com.

“The president is proposing to steal thousands of dollars from grandparents and veterans by cutting cost of living adjustments, and any congressional Democrat who votes for such a plan should be ready for a primary challenge. Social Security is the core of the progressive and Democratic legacy. The President has no mandate to cut these benefits, and progressives will do everything possible to stop him.”

According to The Washington Post, Becky Bond of the progressive group CREDO, called the president's proposed budget “mystifying.”

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“The American people are overwhelmingly opposed to cutting Social Security benefits, and if Democrats don’t want to go down in history as the party that destroyed one of the greatest social programs of all time, they need to stand up and unambiguously reject the president’s proposed cuts,” she said, according to The Post .

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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