News / USA

Obama Unveils Deficit-Fighting Plan

President Barack Obama outlines his plan for cutting federal spending during an address at George Washington University in Washington, April 13, 2011
President Barack Obama outlines his plan for cutting federal spending during an address at George Washington University in Washington, April 13, 2011

In a major speech on fiscal policy in Washington, President Barack Obama has set goals of reducing deficits, and the more than $14 trillion national debt, over the next dozen years. Mr. Obama says getting the nation's fiscal house in order will require shared sacrifice.   

The speech came at a pivotal moment, with the country's debt and deficit spending at historic levels, and opposition Republicans challenging Mr. Obama to sharply reduce spending while not raising taxes.

Key points in the president's plan include a phased reduction of future deficits by $4 trillion over 12 years or less, and putting the national debt on a declining path as a share of the economy by the second half of this decade.

The plan envisions that Bush-era tax cuts for wealthy Americans would not be extended.  That keeps the president in conflict with Republicans, who have already labeled any steps resulting in higher taxes as a "non-starter."

Related video report by Kent Klein
:

Laying out what he described as a path to shared prosperity, Mr. Obama said his strategy would protect the most vulnerable in society while preserving investments needed for job creation and continuing economic recovery.

He warned of the consequences if no action is taken to address mounting debt. "By 2025, the amount of taxes we currently pay will only be enough to finance our health care programs - Medicare and Medicaid - Social Security, and the interest we owe on our debt.  That’s it.   Every other national priority : education, transportation, even national security, will have to be paid for with borrowed money," he said.

Even after the U.S. economy recovers, the president said it will remain on track to be spending more money than it takes in through this decade and beyond, requiring continuing borrowing from countries like China.

Mr. Obama's  proposals include a provision requiring mandatory across-the-board spending cuts if enough progress is not being made to stabilize and reduce the national debt by 2014.

The plan envisions hundreds of billions of dollars in savings from reforms in the government Medicare and Medicaid programs, reforms of the tax code, and defense spending.

A significant portion of the address was devoted to attacking the Republican budget plan for 2012, which proposes about $1 trillion more in deficit reductions over 10 years, with continuing tax breaks for the wealthy.

Mr. Obama called the Republican plan "deeply pessimistic" saying it would result in a fundamentally different America. "There’s nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  And I don't think there is anything courageous about asking for sacrifice from those who can least afford it and don’t have any clout on Capitol Hill.  That is not a vision of the America I know," he said.

Republicans say their budget, which proposes major changes to Medicare and Medicaid, will do more to attack fiscal problems without penalizing what they call  "the main creators of jobs."  

In a written statement, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the president failed to deliver a plan.

Republican budget chairman Representative Paul Ryan said, "What we got was a speech that was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to addressing our country's pressing fiscal challenges."

President Obama said he asked Republican and Democratic leaders to designate teams for negotiations to begin in May, to achieve deficit reduction legislation by the end of June.  Vice President Joe Biden will oversee that process.

The president said he does not expect any final agreement to look exactly like the plan he presented on Wednesday, but believes Americans expect leaders in Washington to compromise. "Though I’m sure the criticism of what I have said here today will be fierce in some quarters, and my critique of the House Republican approach has been strong, Americans deserve and will demand that we all bridge our differences, and find common ground," he said.

President Obama said that in the past presidents and both major parties in Congress had succeeded in reaching agreements on difficult issues, adding that he knows there are Republicans and Democrats who want to see what he called a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs