Obama says budget is 'fiscally responsible' blueprint

April 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama put Medicare and Social Security back on the table, along with funding universal pre-kindergarten in his version of the budget.

Obama revealed his 10-year budget blueprint Wednesday that would seek nearly $250 billion in new spending for jobs, infrastructure and expanded pre-school education and nearly $800 billion in new taxes, including an additional tax on cigarettes.

Obama's plan also would cut more than a trillion dollars from federal programs as well, and includes targeting Social Security benefits, a first.

"Our economy is poised for progress, as long as Washington doesn't get in the way," Obama said when introducing his spending plan, saying his budget represents "a fiscally responsible blueprint for middle-class jobs and growth" that won't "add a dime" to the deficits.

His budget document would build on the $2.5 trillion in deficit-reduction measures already signed into law by reducing U.S. deficits by nearly an additional $2 trillion so that "all-told, we will have surpassed the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that independent economists believe we need to stabilize our finances, but it does so in a balanced and responsible way -- a way that most Americans prefer," Obama said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, noted the lower chamber passed a balanced budget "that will help foster a healthier economy and to help create jobs. Unfortunately, the president's budget never comes to balance. Every family has to balance its budget, Washington should as well."

While Obama "backtracked" on some of his entitlement reforms under discussion 18 months ago, "he does deserve some credit for some incremental entitlement reforms that he has outlined in his budget," Boehner said. "But I would hope that he would not hold hostage these modest reforms for his demand for bigger tax hikes. ... The president got his tax hikes in January; we don't need to be raising taxes on the American people."

To attract new jobs to America, Obama said his budget would invest in new manufacturing hubs, innovation and research. Investments also would be made to help the country achieve energy independence and address climate change.

"And I'll rebuild America partnership that will attract private investment to put construction workers back on the job, rebuilding our roads, our bridges, and our schools, in turn, attracting even more new business to communities across the country," the president said echoing comments he made in his State of the Union address.

He also included funding to ensure "high-quality pre-school available to every child in America."

Obama drew applause when he said it would be paid for by "raising taxes on tobacco products that harm our young people. It's the right thing to do."

He also said his budget would "reform" high schools and job-training programs "to equip more Americans with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy."

"And we'll help more middle-class families afford the rising cost of college," he said."

He said his budget would help build "new ladders of opportunity" into the middle class by partnering with 20 communities hit hardest by the recession to help them improve housing, and education and business investment.

"My budget also replaces the foolish across-the-board spending cuts that are already hurting our economy," Obama said. "And I have to point out that many of the same members of Congress who supported deep cuts are now the ones complaining about them the loudest, as they hit their own communities."

He said his budget "replaces these cuts with smarter ones, making long-term reforms, eliminating actual waste and programs we don't need any more."

Obama repeated his vow not to balance the budget by spending cuts alone that hurts the middle class and the economy.

"When it comes to deficit reduction, I've already met Republicans more than halfway," Obama said. "So, in the coming days and weeks, I hope that Republicans will come forward and demonstrate that they're really as serious -- as serious about the deficits and debt as they claim to be."

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, called Obama's budget one "that doesn't balance."

"I'm a numbers guy," Walden said on CNN, "and this doesn't add up."

Obama's budget was submitted "65 days late and it doesn't add up," he said, referring to the Feb. 4 deadline Obama missed to submit his budget.

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