Obama releases new budget, are the cuts deep enough?
By Ladd Egan
Mon, 14 Feb 2011 22:13:07 GMT — President Barack Obama Monday released his $3.73 trillion budget that aims to bring deficits under control through spending cuts and tax increases.The budget proposal would trim the deficits by $1.1 trillion over a decade although Obama's changes would actually add to the deficits this year and next.For the current year, Obama is projecting the federal deficit will hit an all-time high of $1.65 trillion.In 2012, the deficit is projected to decline to $1.1 trillion, which would set a record for the country having 4th straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits.The Associated Press points out that Obama's budget largely ignores his own deficit commission's recommendations to slash huge entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.Obama called his new budget one of "tough choices and sacrifices," but most of those cuts would be held off until after the end of his first term.Republicans want the president to support their efforts to make deep cuts in this year's budget to attack soaring deficits.House Speaker John Boehner, (R) Ohio, sent a letter Sunday to Obama saying the path to prosperity for the country means "liberating our economy from the shackles of out-of-control government spending and big government."Accompanying Boehner's letter was a statement endorsed by 150 economists that called for immediate action to reduce spending.House Republicans are pushing $61 billion in spending cuts through September. Even some democrats, like senator Claire McCaskill, have called for tougher fiscal cuts.In a satellite interview with KRCG, McCaskill talked about her newly filed Commitment to American Prosperity (CAP) Act, which she filed with eight republicans.The bill would require dramatic cuts and cap federal spending at a level equal to 20.6% of the country TMs gross domestic product, which is the 40-year historical level of spending. The nation is currently spending at a rate equal to 24.7 percent of GDP.Everybody is figuring out how to tighten their belt. The local government, state government, school boards people at their kitchen table, and meanwhile, the federal government because of unemployment benefits and because of the economic crisis has spent more, McCaskill said in an interview with KRCG. Now we have to show the american people that we get it.McCaskill said the reduction would be achieved over a 10-year glide, and that the cap could only be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress, which could be necessary in a time of war or economic crisis.Besides McCaskill, the CAP Act is cosponsored by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.).The bill would require, for the first time ever, that Social Security be part of the budget so lawmakers could have a complete and accurate assessment of all federal spending.Social Security currently has the distinction of being off-budget, which protects benefits from being reduced as part of budget cuts. The only other U.S. entity considered off-budget is the U.S. Postal Service.McCaskill has also co-sponsored another bill that would eliminate automatic pay raises for congress.I don't know anybody in mid-Missouri that gets an automatic pay raise every year and you certainly shouldn't be able to get one and vote yourself one in congress, McCaskill said. I don't believe anybody should get a pay raise except when they have been elected at a certain salary that the voters know about.Answering criticism that the cuts don't go far enough, Lew said the budget for fiscal 2012 has $400 billion in savings and would bring discretionary domestic spending down to levels last seen during the Eisenhower administration in the early 1950s.Obama's plan includes tax increases for oil, gas and coal producers, investment managers and U.S.-based multinational corporations. The plan would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000. Wealthy taxpayers would have their itemized deductions limited, including deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes.O bama's proposal would extend tax credits for college expenses and child care, as well as a more generous Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor.The new budget year begins Oct. 1What do you think? Does Obama's new budget go far enough to cut the deficit? What about automatic pay raises for members of Congress? Leave a comment below.(The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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