The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 14, 2013

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


"A lot of this depends on how well it's managed and how effective it is," she said.

Robert Litan, director of research for Bloomberg Government, said even without seeing important details in Obama's budget proposal, "The only way the numbers can add up must be if Congress passes the tax increases he wants because otherwise there aren't enough budget savings, at least from the face of his speech, to pay for his new programs," he said.

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, said even though Republicans are criticizing Obama's proposals, the plans sound modest.

A $50 billion proposal for infrastructure "is actually not a lot" in the context of past stimulus spending, he said.

A White House fact sheet prepared for Obama's address talks about providing for one year of preschool and covering low- and moderate-income children rather than all children.

Another of the president's major proposals in the speech, raising the federal hourly minimum wage to $9, wouldn't create new federal spending.

In his speech, Obama spoke of his commitment to $4 trillion in deficit reduction. So far, $2.5 trillion has been signed into law, a mix of $1.4 trillion in cuts to discretionary programs, $600 billion from raising taxes on wealthy Americans, and interest savings. In stalled negotiations last year with Republicans, Obama proposed another $600 billion in revenue and $900 billion in cuts to spending and entitlements.

Obama said in his speech that he would push for changes to Medicare that in a decade would be comparable to the amount of savings proposed by the Simpson-Bowles deficit-reduction commission, about $400 billion.

He urged the elimination of what he called tax loopholes for corporations and richer Americans. He also called for containing health-care costs by reducing subsidies for prescription drug companies, shifting doctor payments away from a fee-for-service model and means-testing so wealthier seniors pay more for Medicare.

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