Congressional Budget Office predicts $9.3 trillion deficit in 10 years under Obama's budget
US President Barack Obama defended his budget plans Saturday, insisting that he remained committed to halving the deficit within four years despite new data showing it was bigger than expected.
"In total, our budget would bring discretionary spending for domestic programs as a share of the economy to its lowest level in nearly half a century," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
"And we will continue making these tough choices in the months and years ahead so that as our economy recovers, we do what we must to bring this deficit down."
Friday, the Congressional Budget Office said the budget would produce an enormous deficit of $9.3 trillion in the next decade: "much more than the White House has predicted," reported the International Herald Tribune.
The president said his administration was scouring every corner of the budget to produce two trillion dollars in deficit reductions over the next decade.
The comments came as Congress was poised to launch debate next week on the 3.55-trillion-dollar multiyear budget unveiled by Obama's administration last month.
But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecast Friday the deficit could hit 1.845 trillion dollars this year under the Obama proposal, quadrupling the 2008 record shortfall.
The CBO said its latest budget deficit estimate for fiscal 2009, which ends on September 30, would amount to 13.1 percent of the country's total economic output.
Since its early January estimate of a 1.2-trillion-dollar gap, the CBO said the enactment of the 787-billion-dollar stimulus plan, other measures to revive the economy and additional factors had hiked deficit projections for 2009 and 2010 by over 400 billion dollars.
Republicans immediately seized on the report to blast Obama's economic policies. "It's worse than even the most pessimistic predictions for this budget," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
But Obama moved swiftly to rebut his critics point by point, arguing that his economic proposals offered a long-term solution to America's structural problems and not "a wish list of priorities that I picked out of thin air.
"They are a central part of a comprehensive strategy to grow this economy by attacking the very problems that have dragged it down for too long: the high cost of health care and our dependence on foreign oil; our education deficit and our fiscal deficit," the president noted.
He said the United States must reduce its dependence on foreign oil by developing wind and solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, as well as fuel-efficient cars and trucks.
According to Obama, the nation also must renew its commitment to complete and competitive education for every child.
"In this global economy, we know the countries that out-educate us today will out-compete us tomorrow," he said, "and we know that our students are already falling behind their counterparts in places like China."
The president said Americans also have to enact serious health care reform that will bring down costs and ensure the quality of service. He pointed out that some businesses had been forced to close their doors or ship jobs overseas because they could not afford health insurance.
Obama urged lawmakers not to shy away from the magnitude of problems they were facing, saying that Americans were watching them waiting for them to lead.
"Let's show them that we are equal to the task before us, and let's pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity," he said.
This video was published on WhiteHouse.gov on March 21, 2009.
With wire reports.
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