Obama urges tackling major debt problems

By Reuters
Tuesday, February 15, 2011 12:13 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for reforming the gigantic government pension and healthcare programs, as well as simplifying the tax code — steps that would go far beyond the $3.7 trillion budget he proposed this week.

At a White House news conference, Obama tried to quell Republican criticisms of his fiscal policies and called on the opposition party to join him in reducing the costs of the major entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

He said he wanted to simplify the unwieldy tax code, which also could help reduce a U.S. budget deficit that the White House estimates will hit $1.65 trillion this year.

“All of these steps are going to be difficult. That’s why all of them will require Democrats, independents and Republican,” Obama said, adding, “everyone is going to have to give a little bit.”

But Republicans in Congress were prepared to launch what promises to be a raucous debate over government spending in the House of Representatives.

They hope to pass by week’s end legislation to cut current spending by at least 14 percent, or $61 billion. Conservatives — with Tea Party backing — were hoping to slice much deeper with hundreds of amendments that they hope to test on the House floor.

Obama’s budget did not touch the biggest drivers of the deficit, mandatory spending for Social Security pensions, Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs for the poor and elderly, which make up about two-thirds of the budget.

White House Budget Director Jack Lew traveled to Capitol Hill to defend Obama’s budget blueprint for next year, only to hear Republicans accuse the president of failing to tackle the nation’s deep fiscal problems.

“The president’s budget disregards the drivers of our debt crisis and the insolvency of our entitlement programs, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told Lew.

Republicans on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee are expected to give a similarly rough ride to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner when he testifies later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler and Securities and Exchange Commission head Mary Shapiro told Congress the Republican spending cuts would hurt both agencies’ enforcement activities.

Democrats say the House Republicans’ spending cuts will hurt vital government programs and possibly threaten the economic recovery.

(Editing by Jackie Frank)

Reuters.com brings you the latest news from around the world, covering breaking news in business, politics, technology, and more.
By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    Let’s start by President Obama and the teabaggers in congress showing some leadership. How about they all take a paycut to the average wage in this country. Other peole live on it, they can also. Nah didn’t think so.

  • Anonymous

    Defense is about 20% of the budget (we spend as much as the rest of the world combined). Cut it in half and save 10% of the federal budget.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, God fucking damn it! Just stop the two IDIOT BASTARD SON WARS, stop wasting our money in “defense”, tax the rich and big business at EISENHOWER rates, and lower the retirement age. SS and Medicare are fine as long as you ask the rich to pay their share. Single payer health care would save us a trillion within a half a decade, and bring back our fucking factories from Asia. Stop trying to solve a multi trillion dollar problem with the pennies you can save from robbing the poor. Fucking hell, it’s EASY. Start demanding that the rich STOP fucking this country, Start DEMANDING that they pay their share, and bring back our FUCKING JOBS!

    Good God, it’s NOT that fucking hard. It just takes standing up to the rich motherfuckers who CAUSED the very problems we are talking about. BREAK THEM! The less you leave them with, the less damage they can do to you in return. SEE HOW THAT WORKS?

    Fuck, this “centrist” bullshit is going to be the final death blow to the country. It has even LESS Brains than the righties do.

  • Anonymous

    Wait till all the bad mortgages we are buying come due, the poor and disabled are going to have their work cut out for them to shoulder that debt P.S.- the bankers are demanding their million dollar bonuses again, cough up some blood will ya’?

  • Anonymous

    I needed a vomit bag to listen to Bush. Now I need one for Obama.

  • Guest

    How about bringing the troops home? Closing the bases?


    The bath-houses are full enough. Sorry, prez. Didn’t see your mouth was full…

  • http://twitter.com/OMGWhatDidWeDo Trevinla

    Social security does NOT contribute to the debt… It is more financially stable than any bank in America!

    Before you go cutting the pensions of workers you should start with the non-workers… The elected officials! Once their salary and benefits are on par with soldiers, then and only then should they consider changing anyone elses…

    When I find myself in financial troues I not only cut spending but I look for more income

  • Anonymous

    Obama has fully morphed into a Republican president, having adopted their “fiscally conservative” agenda, which for the last 30 years, has been designed to starve the government of funds (tax cuts for the wealthy), raid the treasury in the form of the biggest redistribution of wealth to the MIC, Wall Street Hucksters, etc, and then once the deficits balloon from resource wars, then move to starve the remaining New Deal programs so that yet another transfer of wealth up to the wealthiest can occur with privatization.

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I identify with your anger and passion big time. “Progressives” that STILL support Obama, would have been considered right wingers a decade ago. Simply stunning.

  • Anonymous

    If Obama and the rest of the politicians in Washington really were serious about cutting the deficit they wouldn’t have extended the damn tax cuts for the rich. Why don’t they start by cutting the budget for military. Stop the wars, bring the troops home! Rescind the extension of the bush tax cuts. You all get a whole lot of money from the lobbyist so maybe you can for go your salaries like the unemployed are. Start building up our infra structure! Stop sending billions to every freakin foreign country there is! Stop dumping on the middle class and poor. Start helping this country or you will completely destroy America! And lets face it if you destroy the middle class and poor who will do the bidding for all the rich bastards?

  • Anonymous

    We got competely duped by Obama. We voted for a liberal and got a closet republican!

  • Anonymous

    I have made a very similar post on several occasions: Obama is not a secret Muslim, instead he is a secret Republican – but the secret is out of the bag now. Completely disgusting. I guess the follow up is – How do you think he got support for the nomination – he must have cut a bunch of backroom deals early in the process and Wall Street and the big multi-nationals knew exactly what they were going to get – but not the voters.

  • Anonymous

    Democracy Now on this isssue: BS

    DemocracyNow.org -

    President Obama has unveiled a budget plan seeking to trim the federal deficit by cutting or eliminating some 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education, while increasing MILITARY spending and funding for the construction of nuclear power plants. Announcing his $3.7 trillion proposal, Obama touted his previously stated pledge to freeze funding for domestic programs outside of the military for five years. Obama’s plan includes two modest tax hikes for banks and oil companies. It also calls for ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in 2013 and returning the estate tax to its higher 2009 levels. For analysis of Obama’s proposed budget, Democracy Now! interviews John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine.


  • Anonymous

    thank you oh great savior for tackling the debt

    now back down to earth, what are are you gonna do about the escalating food and gas prices. Any chance of meaningful commodity futures and banking reforms. Any chance you could bar investment banks from buying up wheat futures, crude futures, securitized debt futures. Any chance govt policies could listen to consumers before there is a revolution right here