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Obama to Seek 3-Year Freeze on Spending to Tame Deficit

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress for a three-year spending freeze on many domestic programs, in a move to underscore his seriousness about reducing the budget deficit.

Administration officials say the president will propose the freeze in his State of the Union address on Wednesday, and it will be included in the budget he submits to Congress on February 1.

The plan, which is expected to save about $250 billion over the next decade, would not apply to spending on defense, veterans, homeland security or foreign aid.

The White House has been under pressure to reduce excess spending, following a record $1.4 trillion budget deficit in fiscal year 2009. On Tuesday, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated a $1.3 trillion deficit for 2010.

During his address, Mr. Obama is also expected to detail economic initiatives to help middle income families and create jobs.

In an interview Monday with a U.S. television network (ABC), Mr. Obama said he remains determined to address the country's toughest problems, even if his actions prove politically unpopular.

His health care reform plan has drawn criticism, as has his previous decisions to bail out the nation's banks and rescue automakers from collapse.

He acknowledged paying a political price for his initiatives, with his public approval rating dropping steadily since taking office a year ago.

Last week, a key initiative of his administration, health care reform, suffered a setback with the election of Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate.

The election gave the Republican party 41 members in the 100-member Senate, enough seats to employ delaying tactics against Democrat-supported legislation such as health care reform.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.