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Obama to Seek Congressional Support for Budget, Economic Plans


Before his Tuesday news conference, dominated by questions about the economy, President Barack Obama faced more criticism from opposition Republicans over his budget and spending proposals. The president is expected to visit the US Congress on Wednesday to help move his priorities through the Democratic-controlled legislature.

As the furor continues over the hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses the American International Group gave to its employees, President Obama and administration officials face pressure from Republicans, and some Democrats, about his budget priorities.

The president meets Wednesday with Senate Democrats, as the budget committee there and in the House of Representatives begin "marking up" budget resolutions, which form the framework for appropriations and other important legislation.

Democrats controlling both committees will use as a basis revised figures released last week by the Congressional Budget Office that project a more than $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, substantially more than the Obama administration's initial estimate.

Republicans, such as Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, kept up their criticism, accusing President Obama of fiscal irresponsibility and asserting that his plans will greatly increase deficit spending. "One would think that our government would be fiscally responsible and try and contain our debt. Unfortunately, the president has given us a budget that grows our debt so much that our public debt will double within six years and triple in a little over 10 years," he said.

Ryan says Republicans will release their own alternative proposals after they see what Democrats bring to the table.

House Majority Leader, Democrat Steny Hoyer says House and Senate budget plans will be a "broad brush" blueprint to achieve the objectives of repairing the economy in the short-term and putting the U.S. on a path to long-term, sustainable fiscal health.

But he told reporters that achieving another objective, cutting the deficit in half as a percentage of gross domestic product within five years, would require "modifications," taking the latest projections into account.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there can be no wavering on investment in and reform of health care and education.

When asked whether the Congressional Budget Office deficit projections will force Democrats to scale back these and other goals, Pelosi responded. "You can't say, 'We're going to do less because those numbers are pessimistic.' You say, 'We have to do what we do in light of those numbers.'"

House minority leader John Boehner repeated his assertion that President Obama has largely ignored Republican proposals on the budget and economy. "When it is all said and done, I think it is time for a 'do over'. We need to start this budget process all over again. And I hope the president will work with us to build a responsible budget that will help strengthen our economy and put Americans back to work again," he said.

While the loudest complaints about President Obama's budget come from Republicans, he has also heard concerns about deficit spending from Democrats, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman, Kent Conrad.

A key question is whether either chamber of Congress will employ what is called the "reconciliation process" aimed at overcoming filibusters, or blocks, in the Senate on contentious measures where a 60-vote majority is usually required to pass major legislation.

When the House and Senate debate their respective plans next week, Republicans are expected to offer amendments to cut or freeze government spending.

Last week's Congressional Budget Office analysis of President Obama's budget projected that it would increase the federal deficit $2.3 trillion more than initially expected during the next 10 years.

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