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

Multimedia

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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid