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Obama: Budget not 'ideal' but has 'tough reforms'

By Jim Kuhnhenn

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:53 a.m. HST, Apr 06, 2013

WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama says his soon-to-be released budget, already criticized by friends and foes, is not his "ideal plan" but offers "tough reforms" for benefit programs and scuttles some tax breaks for the wealthy.

That's a mix, he contends, that will provide long-term deficit reduction without harming the economy.

In his first comments about the 2014 spending blueprint he's set to release Wednesday, Obama said he intends to reduce deficits and provide new money 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, broadcast today.

Obama's plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 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 details, made public Friday, drew a fierce response from liberals, labor unions and advocates for older Americans. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was not impressed, either.

"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.

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 $4.3 trillion to total deficit reduction by 2023.

The main deficit reduction elements of the plan incorporate an offer Obama made to Boehner in December when both sought to avoid automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and broad tax increases

Obama's plan includes $580 billion in new taxes that Republicans oppose. There's also a new inflation formula, rejected by many liberals, that would reduce the annual cost of living adjustments for a range 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 enacting "common-sense tax reform that includes closing wasteful tax loopholes for the wealthy and well-connected."

Obama made no mention of the effect his budget would have on Social Security and other social safety net programs. That idea drew a hostile reaction from some of his most ardent political backers.

An Associated Press-GfK poll conducted late last year found that 49 percent of those asked were opposed to changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated to produce smaller annual increases and reduce the federal budget deficit.

The poll found 30 percent supported the idea and 15 percent were neutral. Of those opposed to a recalculation, 32 percent said they "strongly opposed" the change, compared with just 11 percent who strongly support it.

Obama rejected a House Republican plan 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, 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.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivered the Republican radio and Internet address, arguing that "the ideas on how to fix the federal government are now percolating in the states."

"You see, you don't change America by changing Washington — you change America by changing the states," he said. "And that's exactly what Republican governors are doing across the country — taking a different approach to grow their states' economies and fix their governments with ideas that work.

Brownback, a former House member and 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."


AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
Take $1.8 trillion from seniors but take only $1 trillion from the richest of the rich. That is simply not a fair distribution of the burden. Seniors' fixed income investments were killed by money printing. Their Social Security amounts have been stagnant because the Feds change how inflation is measured. This is not a budget....this is a give away to the 1%.
on April 6,2013 | 08:09AM
pcman wrote:
The Obama budget steals from the elders and gives to the poor. Why not? He doesn't have grandparents or parents in their senior years (older than 70). Along with the Ben Benenke program of stealing savings interest from the retired elders and giving it to the young people has created a job gap because the elders have had to work to augment their retirement savings, which gets only .005 per year. Between Obama and Bernenke, this is the cruelest adminstration in the history of the US.
on April 6,2013 | 10:07AM
pandadaddy wrote:
The "stimulus" package didn't help any of this. They (our govt) were hiring people to dig holes and more people to back fill the same holes and called it "putting Americans back to work" by using our hard earned tax dollars to create jobs. Nonsense.
on April 6,2013 | 11:01AM
Maipono wrote:
I doubt that Obama read his budget, he has a poor concept about how our economic system works, and has to rely on his handlers to come up with something that appears to be a budget. He really is better at selling things, and that is what he is trying to do at this time. He actually thinks the deficit is going down at this time, and that he is keeping his promise of cutting the deficit in half during his first term. Reality check: He raised the deficit by 7 trillion dollars in his first term, more than most of the other presidents combined.
on April 6,2013 | 11:15AM
HD36 wrote:
Everytime they manipulate an index in order to pay out less money, they are stealing your money.
on April 6,2013 | 11:40AM
hawaiikone wrote:
A lesson for Obama A turkey was chatting with a bull “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, but I haven’t got the energy.” “Well, why don’t you nibble on my droppings?” replied the bull. “They’re packed with nutrients.” The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it gave him enough strength to reach the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch. Finally after a fourth night, there he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. Soon he was spotted by a farmer, who shot the turkey out of the tree. Moral of the story: Bulls**t might get you to the top, but it can be tough to stay there.
on April 6,2013 | 12:21PM
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