News / USA

President Obama Unveils Budget Proposal

The newly published 2012 budget documents on display at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington, February 10, 2011
The newly published 2012 budget documents on display at the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington, February 10, 2011


Michael Bowman

U.S. President Barack Obama has unveiled a $3.7 trillion federal budget for next year that seeks to cut America’s mammoth deficit while retaining certain spending priorities to spur future economic expansion.

Republicans, who control one house of Congress, are dismissing the president’s proposed budget as a costly burden to the economy that fails to address a fiscal crisis. The positions staked out constitute opening bids in what is expected to be a protracted battle over the government’s finances.

President Obama says painful choices must be made to put America’s fiscal house in order. "I’ve called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years.  This freeze would cut the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, bringing this kind of spending - domestic discretionary spending - to its lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president [in the 1950s]," he said.

The president’s budget mandates cuts in defense spending, environmental protection and many other government endeavors. It assumes robust economic growth in coming years, and limits tax deductions for the wealthy as well as corporate tax breaks. Overall projected deficit reduction totals more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

At the same time, the proposed budget expands funding for infrastructure projects, clean energy initiatives and educational priorities. Speaking at a primary school in Baltimore, Maryland, Mr. Obama said America must continue to invest with an eye to the future. "I’m convinced that if we out-build and out-innovate and out-educate, as well as out-hustle the rest of the world, the jobs and industries of our time will take root here in the United States.  Our people will prosper and our country will succeed," he said.

Republicans promptly blasted the president’s budget blueprint, saying it would add more than $7 trillion to the national debt and push America to financial ruin. Republican Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is chairman of the House Budget Committee. "It is not too late to right our ship, get our economy growing, get our debt headed in the right direction, and get America’s fiscal problems solved. But if we keep postponing this, if we keep punting [refusing to tackle the problem] like this budget does, then there will come a moment when it is too late," he said.

The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was even more blunt. "We’re broke [out of money]. We’re broke. We don’t have the money," he said.

Republican legislators have yet to craft an alternative 2012 budget of their own, but are intent on slashing current federal spending, and promise to keep cutting until fiscal woes are solved.

Congressman Ryamn said, "The debt crisis is caused by spending, not taxes. And so, let’s go where the problem is, and that is spending."

President Obama maintains that deep spending cuts favored by Republicans would harm America’s future economic prospects, and unfairly force the poor and vulnerable to bear the cost of years of fiscal excess. Republicans counter that a bloated federal government and ever-expanding national debt will destroy the country, harming everyone - rich and poor alike.

Budget analyst Bill Frenzel of the Brookings Institution says compromise is possible, if Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats are willing to consider deeper spending cuts, and Republicans agree to some form of increased taxation. "As long as Republicans like to cut expenses and Democrats are not as anxious to do so and would rather have a tax component, I think everyone will get less than they want from this budget," he said.

Economists say neither side in the budget debate has yet to embrace badly-needed reforms to programs that provide income and health care assistance to retirees, the costs of which are expected to sky-rocket in coming years. They argue, until those costs are contained, America’s fiscal and economic health will continue to suffer.

The first congressional budget votes could come as early as next week, but a final deal - if one can be struck - is likely months away.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs