Obama: Changing Spending-as-Usual Depends on Changing Politics-as-Usual

BY Carolyn O'Hara  February 1, 2010 at 10:10 AM EDT

In remarks this morning about his newly unveiled budget for fiscal 2011, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s fiscal record as preventing further economic disaster but declared that “budget common sense” should now guide Washington’s spending.

“I’m willing to reduce waste in programs I care about, and I’m asking members of Congress to do the same,” [the president said]. “I’m asking Republicans and Democrats alike to take a fresh look at programs they’ve supported in the past to see what’s working and what’s not, and trim back accordingly.”

The president outlined how he hopes to save $250 billion over the next decade thanks to a three-year freeze on discretionary spending and described cutting more than 120 programs across the government, potentially resulting in another $20 billion in savings.

Still, the budget unveiled Monday would result in a record $1.6 trillion — or 10.6 percent of GDP — this fiscal year, which ends September 30. The deficit is then expected to fall to about $700 billion — about 4 percent of GDP — in 2014 before beginning to rise again.

The release of the president’s budget kicks off a multi-month process in which House and Senate committees haggle over spending and priorities, culminating in compromise legislation later in the year.

The president’s budget includes a $100 billion jobs plan, consisting mostly of tax cuts related to small-businesses, infrastructure projects, and clean energy initiatives. He has also proposed $17 billion in Pell Grant funding for college tuition help, part of a 6 percent increase for the Department of Education, and a 2 percent bump in spending for the Department of Homeland Security, with nearly three quarters of a billion dollars earmarked for airport screening machines.

The budget also includes higher war spending than Obama envisioned in his budget last year. In the 2010 fiscal budget, the president requested just $50 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for 2011; in the latest budget, that number has soared to $160 billion.

Mr. Obama outlined again his proposal to create a bipartisan fiscal commission to “hammer out concrete deficit reduction proposals over the medium and long term.” He also vowed to restore restoring pay-as-you-go spending rules for Congress, which he described as “a simple rule that says Congress can’t spend a dime without cutting a dime elsewhere.”

You can explore the where the money in the $3.8 trillion budget comes from and where it goes in this graphic from the Washington Post.