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Obama Pushes for Budget Priorities

U.S. President Barack Obama says any budget passed by Congress must meet his priorities.

Mr. Obama is demanding that the final budget cut the federal deficit, reform health care, fund education and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But Republicans say the president's $3.6 trillion budget proposal spends, taxes and borrows too much.

Mr. Obama used his weekly address to re-focus attention on his budget plan and get it through Congress, after a week dominated by outrage over huge bonuses paid at companies that are being bailed out by the government.

The president calls his spending plan "an economic blueprint" for the country's future.

"....a vision of America where growth is not based on real estate bubbles or overleveraged banks, but on a firm foundation of investments in energy, education and health care that will lead to a real and lasting prosperity," Mr. Obama said.

Some Republicans disagree. In his party's response, Governor Haley Barbour of the southern state of Mississippi calls the president's budget "a spending spree."

"President Obama's budget spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much. It is breathtaking. The new administration's budget for next year alone calls for a $1.2 trillion deficit - nearly triple any past federal deficit," Barbour said.

The Congressional Budget Office warned Friday that the U.S. budget deficit will grow to more than $1.8 trillion for the fiscal year that ends September 30th, and that Mr. Obama's budget plan will lead to $9.3 trillion in deficits over ten years.

Still, the president says his plan addresses Americans' real needs and concerns.

"I realize that there are those who say these plans are too ambitious to enact. To that, I say that the challenges we face are too large to ignore," Mr. Obama said. "I did not come here to pass on our problems to the next president or the next generation. I came here to solve them."

Mr. Obama spent two days in California in the past week, taking his campaign for his budget priorities directly to the people. But his message had to compete for attention with news that the giant insurance company American International Group, or AIG, paid out $165 million in bonuses to employees after the government agreed to bail out the financially troubled company.