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August 16, 2011

Obama to Propose Deficit Cuts of Over $1.5 Trillion

by Dan Robinson

Concluding a three-day bus tour of key midwestern states, President Barack Obama said he will propose that a bipartisan congressional committee find more than $1.5 trillion in additional spending cuts, a level set in the recent debt and deficit compromise.  

Obama used town hall events in Atkinson and Alpha in his home state of Illinois to reinforce messages he delivered to voters during this midwest tour.

The president has spoken of a broken political system in Washington, blamed Republicans for resisting a larger debt and deficit compromise, and urged Americans to increase pressure on all members of Congress.

"There is nothing wrong with our country right now," said President Obama. "There is something wrong with our politics."  

Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidates have stepped up their criticisms of the president, including Republican front-runner, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

"He and his academic and political friends don't understand what it takes to get this economy going again," said Romney.

"Mr. president, America's crisis is not bad luck, it's bad policies from Washington, D.C.," said Perry.

Republican candidates and Republicans in Congress have criticized Obama for failing to provide a specific plan for bringing down 9 percent unemployment. But that will change in early September.

Obama will deliver a major policy speech after the Labor Day holiday in which he will lay out specific proposals to strengthen economic recovery, including jobs initiatives, infrastructure projects, and tax proposals.

In Illinois, the president again mentioned the need for Congress to extend payroll tax cuts, and pass free trade agreements to help boost the economy and create jobs.

He also made clear he intends to propose more ambitious spending cut goals to be considered by a bipartisan congressional committee which must make its recommendations by November.

"When this committee comes forward I am going to making a presentation that has more deficit reduction than the $1.5 trillion that they have been assigned to obtain," said Obama.

Obama said he will continue to call for a mix of spending cuts and new revenue, saying "everything is going to be on the table" in efforts to achieve balanced deficit reduction.

At a town hall in Atkinson, Illinois, Obama heard some of the deep frustrations people have with the economy, including LuAnn Lavine who works in real estate.

"Since the debt ceiling fiasco in Washington, the phones have stopped. We have no consumer confidence after what has happened," said Lavine.

Republicans are predicting that Obama's September speech will be little more than a re-run of existing proposals. A spokesman for House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner said the country needs a plan, not another speech.

But there are also clear signs that Republican leaders recognize potential negative effects from a continuation of political bickering with Obama and Democrats.

In a memo to House Republicans, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said they should avoid "brinksmanship" and work to "minimize unnecessary uncertainty" and urged support for the so-called congressional "super committee".