U.S. President Barack Obama is calling on lawmakers to pass his huge federal budget, and says he is ready to fight for the reforms it includes.
President Obama admits that it will not be easy to persuade Congress to pass his $3.5 trillion spending plan for the 2010 fiscal year. In his weekly broadcast address, the president says lobbyists and special interest groups will oppose his plans to reform the health care, banking and energy industries, among others. But he says he will not back down.
"I know these steps will not sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they are gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this: so am I," he said.
Mr. Obama says his budget fulfills promises he made during last year's presidential campaign. Among them was a pledge to end tax breaks for wealthy Americans. His plan would have the wealthiest five percent pay $1 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade, while most others would get tax cuts.
"I did not come here to do the same thing we have been doing or to take small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget starts to make, and that is the change I will be fighting for in the weeks ahead," he said.
The White House predicts the United States will enter the new fiscal year with a budget deficit of $1.75 trillion - the largest since World War II, and four times the size of this year's deficit.
In the Republican Party response, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina criticizes the cost of the budget. He says Washington is "in a state of denial" about government spending.
"This week, the president submitted to Congress the single largest increase in federal spending in the history of the United States, while driving the deficit to levels that were once thought impossible," he said.
Mr. Obama proposed his first federal budget on Thursday, and pledged to bring the deficit back down over several years.