The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 14, 2013

Obama vow to not add dime to deficit leaves billions to be found

By Margaret Talev

Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — President Obama said the proposals in his State of the Union speech won't increase the U.S. deficit "by a single dime." He didn't say they'd be free.

The president's wish list, involving a mix of one-time and continuing costs, amounts to billions of dollars largely to boost the economy and job creation. Just how many billions will become clearer when he submits his budget proposal to Congress in mid-March.

Obama's initiatives include $50 billion for bridge repairs and other "urgent" infrastructure projects, $1 billion for manufacturing-innovation centers, and undisclosed amounts for research, clean energy, education, worker training and preschool for 4-year-olds in the U.S.

How much support the proposals get in Congress depends in part on how Obama would pay for them and on the broader political atmosphere. Republican lawmakers were skeptical.

"With a $16 trillion debt, he actually called for more spending, too — though he didn't say how he would pay for it or even how much it would cost," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

While Republicans criticized the president for trying to raise taxes to expand government, Obama said the new spending he's proposing would promote job creation and economic growth. His budget won't be released until after a March 1 deadline for Obama and Congress to avert $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.

Any mix of revenue and cuts to pay for the president's new programs would be in addition to $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction that Obama has already sought. Republicans oppose any further revenue increases after having accepted higher tax rates on married couples with taxable income above $450,000 a year as part of a deal to avoid an across-the-board tax increase at the end of last year.

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