WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday sent Congress a new budget that seeks to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade while at the same time showering billions of dollars of increased spending on areas aimed at giving the economy a quick boost.
The submission was immediately attacked by Republicans as a retread of ideas Congress has already rejected. The battle is likely to extend all the way to the November elections with major decisions by Congress not expected until a lame duck session late in the year.
In a fact sheet previewing the budget, the administration sought to cast the debate as a fight to protect the middle class following decades of eroding security and a deep recession.
“We must transform our budget from one focused on speculating, spending and borrowing to one constructed on the solid foundation of educating, innovating and building,” the administration said.
Obama was scheduled to speak later Monday to students at Northern Virginia Community College to highlight a new $8 billion proposal that aims at boosting the ability of the nation’s community colleges to train students for the jobs of the future.
Jack Lew, the president’s chief of staff, made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to promote the spending initiative as a balanced approach that will focus on the short-term imperative to provide more support to the economy while attacking long-term deficits.
While administration officials defended the plan as a balanced approach, Republicans attacked the effort for failing to do more to restrain the deficit, which Obama had promised in 2009 to cut in half by the end of his first term.
“It seems like the president has decided again to campaign instead of govern,” Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in an interview. “He’s just going to duck the responsibility to tackle this country’s fiscal problems.”
Ryan is preparing an alternative to Obama’s budget that will be similar to a measure that the House approved last year but failed in the Senate.
This year’s budget debate is expected to dominate the presidential contest and congressional elections with the issue not finally resolved probably until a lame-duck session of Congress after the November election, when lawmakers will have to decide what to do with expiring Bush-era tax cuts and looming across-the-board spending cuts.
Obama’s spending plan for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 projects a deficit for this year of $1.33 trillion. That would mean four straight years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits.
Under Obama’s outline, the deficit would decline to $901 billion in 2013 with continued improvements shrinking the deficit to $575 billion in 2018.