President Barack Obama released his much awaited budget plan for 2012 earlier this week, and called for Republicans to join him in a bipartisan effort to reduce the gargantuan national deficit.
In an effort to reduce what is expected to be a $1.6 trillion deficit this year, Obama’s $3.7 trillion budget called for a reduction or elimination of over 200 federal programs, including community and environmental services. Obama also proposed reducing the Pentagon’s recently proposed budget by over $23 billion, excluding spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Obama proposed new taxes on businesses and the wealthy that will supposedly deflate the deficit by $1.6 trillion over the next 10 years. Households with incomes higher than $250,000 will lose lower tax rates and other breaks put in place during the Bush Administration.
As promised in his State of the Union address last month, Obama highlighted education spending, clean-energy technology and medical research. He believes these priorities will help sustain the economy in the long term.
“Even as we cut out things that we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future,” Obama told the press during his announcement of the plan at Parkville Middle School and Center of Technology in Baltimore on Feb. 14.
Obama reportedly went against his own deficit advisers by ignoring advice on the creation of a long-term plan that would reduce the inflating debt, including proposals to fix the Social Security debacle which will soon start handing out more than it receives via pay-roll taxes.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) called out the president’s leadership for not addressing the rising deficit enough, especially on the issue of Social Security.
“Presidents are elected to take the country’s challenges on and fix them before they get out of control,” Ryan said.
“Everybody knows the debt is out of control. The president set up a commission to that effect, and he doesn’t even take on any of the commission’s big recommendations,” he said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates also said that the Pentagon cannot do its job with cuts more than $9 billion, let alone Obama’s proposed slashing of $23 billion.
“Suggestions to cut defense by this or that large number have largely become exercises in simple math, divorced from serious considerations of capabilities, risk, and the level of resources needed to protect this country’s security and vital interests around the world,” Gates said during a Pentagon press conference.
Defending his budget, Obama said, “While it’s absolutely essential to live within our means, while we are absolutely committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to find further savings and to look at the whole range of budget issues, we can’t sacrifice our future in the process.”
Republicans plan on finding those “further savings” with a counter-proposal this week that is expected to cut around $61 billion from Obama’s original plan. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the original proposal “will destroy jobs by spending too much.”