WASHINGTON — Confronting bipartisan criticism, President Barack Obama conceded Saturday his proposed budget is not his “ideal plan” but said it offers “tough reforms” to the nation’s benefit programs while closing loopholes for the wealthy, a mix that he argued will provide long-term deficit reduction without harming the economy.
In his first comments about a budget he is to release Wednesday, Obama said he intends to reduce deficits while at the same time providing new spending for public works projects, early education and job training.
“We don’t have to choose between these goals - we can do both,” Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address.
Obama’s budget calls for slower growth in government benefits programs for the poor, veterans and the elderly, as well as higher taxes, primarily from the wealthy. Some of its details, made public Friday, drew a fierce response from liberals, labor unions and advocates for older Americans and prompted an unimpressed reaction from Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
“It’s a compromise I’m willing to accept in order to move beyond a cycle of short-term, crisis-driven decision-making, and focus on growing our economy and our middle class for the long run,” Obama said.
Obama proposes spending cuts and revenue increases that would result in $1.8 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years, replacing $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that are otherwise poised to take effect over the next 10 years.
Counting reductions and higher taxes that Congress and Obama have approved since 2011, the 2014 budget would contribute to a total $4.3 trillion in total deficit reduction by 2023.
The key deficit reduction elements of the plan incorporate an offer Obama made to Boehner in December as both men sought to avert an impending “fiscal cliff” of automatic, across the board spending cut and broad tax increases