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Obama Sends 2011 Budget to Congress

US President Barack Obama delivers his weekly speech, 30 Jan 2010
US President Barack Obama delivers his weekly speech, 30 Jan 2010

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U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a $3.8 trillion budget request to Congress for the fiscal year that begins on October first.  It is the first step in what is expected to be a long, contentious budget process.

President Obama is walking a fine line in his 2011 budget.  He is seeking $100 billion to tackle unemployment, while moving to trim the federal budget deficit.

"It is time to hold Washington to the same standard families and businesses hold themselves.  It is time to save what we can and what we must and live within our means once again," he said.

His budget forecasts a deficit of roughly $1.6 trillion.  President Obama says he plans to slash it in half by 2014 through a combination of tax increases on wealthy Americans, and cuts in domestic programs.

"We simply cannot continue to spend as if deficits do not have consequences, as if waste does not matter," he added.

The president says his staff has gone through every budget item looking for waste and inefficiencies.  Mr. Obama says he is standing by his pledge to freeze spending for three years in all areas except national security, and programs funded through special taxes that help the elderly and the poor.

But the president stresses that even the Pentagon will have to justify every dollar spent.

"Even though the Department of Defense is exempt from the budget freeze, it is not exempt from budget common sense," President Obama noted.  "It is not exempt from looking for savings."

In brief remarks at the White House, the president urged Republicans and Democrats to work together to come up with responsible fiscal policies.  Top Republicans responded by calling his budget proposal an example of irresponsibility.

In a written statement, John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, said the president's budget spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much.

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