Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Obama says budget not 'ideal' but has 'tough reforms'

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 Saturday.

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 last week, drew a fierce response from liberals, labor unions and advocates for older Americans. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was not impressed, either.

Obama said, "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."

He 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.

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