Obama unveils details of $3.55 trillion budget
(AP) - Talking in terms distressed homeowners couldunderstand, President Barack Obama compared his $3.55 trillionspending plan to a family budget pinched by hard times.
"You know, there are times where you can afford to redecorateyour house and there are times where you need to focus onrebuilding its foundation," the president said Thursday as heproposed his first budget. "Today, we have to focus onfoundations."
Obama promised to slash federal spending by $2 trillion over 10years by eliminating waste and shifting spending priorities. Hesaid every American will have to "compromise on certain things wecare about, but which we simply cannot afford right now" in hisoft-repeated message of shared sacrifice.
At the same time, the Obama administration has invested largesums of money to revive the faltering economy, including the $787billion stimulus package that went into effect this month.
Obama's budget would move the nation toward health care for all,expand bank rescues, roll up bigger debt and slap higher costs onthe wealthy to help pay for it all. The projected yearly deficitwould hit $1.75 trillion, reflecting the massive spending beingundertaken to battle a severe recession.
The president said the government "must add to our deficits inthe short term to provide immediate relief to families and get oureconomy moving." But he said his budget plan would begin torestore fiscal discipline over the long run and invest in improvinghis big priorities: better health care, energy and education.
Obama spoke of $2 trillion in potential savings over the next 10years by closing loopholes, eliminating waste and shifting spendingpriorities. But that kind of long-term projection is looser than itsounds; budgets change each year, and Obama only has a real say onspending during his first term, unless he wins re-election.
Obama's budget amounts to his first signature on federalspending, outlining the most fundamental and important of dailyissues: Where all the money goes.
But it is only a proposal. Congress, working with theadministration, makes the final decisions on spending, and Obama'sblueprint is already setting off intense debate among lawmakers.What follows now is a legislative process of hashing over the rightpriorities, how to pay for them and how to cobble together thevotes.
Obama's budget would boost taxes on the wealthy and curtailMedicare payments to insurance companies and hospitals to make wayfor a $634 billion down payment on universal health care. That is alittle more than half the money it would take to extend insuranceto 48 million uninsured Americans.
"We must make it a priority to give every single Americanquality, affordable health care," Obama said. The president saidthat promise, one of the most ambitious and costly of hispresidential campaign, is the key to both a healthier populationand a more solid economic picture in the long term.
His budget is a 140-page outline, with the complete detailsscheduled to come in mid- to late-April. The new budget year beginsOct. 1.
To watch Obama's remarks on the budget, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.