President Obama today outlined a $3.77 trillion budget that aims to reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and cutting popular entitlement programs, saying "we've got to get smarter about our priorities as a nation."
"For years the debate in this town has raged between reducing our deficits at all costs and making the investments necessary to grow our economy," Obama said in a brief statement in the White House Rose Garden. "And this budget answers that argument because we can do both. We can grow our economy and shrink our deficits."
The White House says the president's budget proposal would reduce the deficit by an additional $1.8 trillion in the next 10 years, bringing total deficit reduction to $4.3 trillion when including tax increases and spending cuts in the past two years.
The budget formalizes the offer the president made to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations in December, including cuts to both Social Security and Medicare paired with tax increases.
The White House hopes the cuts will attract bipartisan support, but the budget is largely seen as a symbolic negotiating tool and it stands little chance of becoming law.
"When it comes to deficit reduction, I've already met Republicans more than halfway, so in the coming days and weeks I hope that Republicans will come forward and demonstrate that they're really as serious, as serious about the deficits and debt as they claim to be," the president said.
Obama has invited 12 Republican Senators to dinner at the White House tonight, part of his effort to seek out lawmakers who're willing to compromise.
The president's budget also includes many of the proposals outlined in his State of the Union address, including $50 billion in infrastructure investments, $1 billion for manufacturing innovation institutes, a "Preschool for All" initiative financed by raising the federal tax on cigarettes, and raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour.
The new investments are fully paid for and offset, according to the White House, and the budget would reduce the deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016.
"Our economy is poised for progress, as long as Washington doesn't get in the way. And frankly the American people deserve better than what we've been seeing: a short-sighted, crisis- driven decision-making like the reckless across-the-board spending cuts that are already hurting a lot of communities out there, cuts that economists predict will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs during the course of this year," Obama said.
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