Obama on the Budget Battle: “Cut What We Can’t Afford And Pay For What We Cannot Do Without”

Feb 12, 2011 6:00am

From Sunlen Miller:

Previewing his budget, set to be released on Monday President Obama promises a budget that will “help us live within our means while investing in our future.”

“Families across this country understand what it takes to manage a budget,” President Obama says in his weekly address, “They understand what it takes to make ends meet without forgoing important investments like education.  Well, it’s time Washington acted as responsibly as our families do. “

With a nod to the debate with Republicans about spending vs. cost cutting the president says that his budget will cut “what we can’t afford” and will pay “for what we cannot do without.”

The president’s budget will freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. In the weekly address the president says some programs that he “deeply” cares about will be cut, in order to reduce the deficit by $400 billion over the next decade.

“We’ve stripped down the budget by getting rid of waste,” Obama says. “For example, we’re getting rid of thousands of government-owned buildings that sit empty because they aren’t needed.  I’ve also proposed freezing salaries for hardworking government employees, because everyone has to do their part.  And I’m going to make sure politics doesn’t add to our deficit, by vetoing any bill that contains earmarks.”

Putting a personal face to this number-crunching story while underscoring the point of making “difficult sacrifices while still investing in the future” President Obama introduces the Breece family.

Brenda Breece first wrote to President Obama in a letter.  A self-described “frugal” family who wait often wait for movies to come out on TV rather than go to the theater, give each other haircuts rather than visit the salon, and watch the food budget — after the father of the family lost his job at the local Chrysler plant.

“Brenda and her husband know what they can do without.  But they also know what investments are too important to sacrifice.  Their daughter, Rachel, is a sophomore in college with a 4.0 grade point average.  The tuition is a big expense.  But it’s worth it, because it will give her the chance to achieve her dreams.”

The president says that like the Breece family, the nation needs to do this too.

“Just as the Breece family is making difficult sacrifices while still investing in the future – by helping their daughter pay her tuition – my budget does the same.”

The president says those investments mean investments in roads, high speed trains and broadband – research for clean energy and biotechnology, and improving schools.

On Monday the president will visit a middle school in Baltimore, Maryland to speak about the budget, highlighting investments necessary in education.

Gearing up for the debate of cost cutting vs. spending, the Republicans' weekly address says that it would be “beyond irresponsible to saddle the next generation of American citizens with the responsibility for paying back our debt.”

“The bottom line is we are a nation working on borrowed time -– we have to make some significant changes in order to compete,” Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee says. “The President’s proposal for a freeze in government spending might give the White House a nice talking point. But it is a totally inadequate solution to our nation’s spending problems.”

-Sunlen Miller

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