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White House officials to testify on budget

Feb. 15, 2011 at 3:30 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The White House's two top budget officials are to testify before Congress Tuesday on U.S. President Barack Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion 2012 budget.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee at 1 p.m. EST and Budget Director Jacob Lew will testify before the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. and the Senate Budget Committee at 2 p.m., their offices said.

Geithner is also to testify before the Senate Finance Committee at 10 a.m. Wednesday, the House Budget Committee at 2 p.m. Wednesday and the Senate Budget Committee at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Republican lawmakers Monday called Obama's 2012 budget blueprint oblivious to fiscal responsibility in the face of an unprecedented deficit crisis, even as the White House projects a record $1.6 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year.

"This budget ignores the problems," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "This budget does more spending, more taxing, more borrowing, and at the end of the day, if we don't turn this around, that's going to cost us jobs. It's going to cost us prosperity and it's going to cost our country its credibility."

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who sat with Ryan on Obama's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform last year, also criticized the budget, saying it does not cutting spending over the mid- and long term.

"We need a much more robust package of deficit and debt reduction over the medium and long term," Conrad said. "We need a comprehensive long-term debt-reduction plan, in the size and scope of what was proposed by the president's fiscal commission. It must include spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform that simplifies the tax code, lowers rates and raises more revenue."

Under Obama's proposal, spending as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product would be 23.6 percent next year, down from 25.3 percent this year. Spending would continue to decline until 2020, when it would rebound to 23 percent, the budget projects.

The increased spending reflects projected growth in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security costs.

The budget projects the deficit will fall to 3 percent of GDP by 2017 from 10.9 percent this year, provided the economy rebounds, the White House says.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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