JIM KUHNHENN, ANDREW TAYLOR
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for a short-term deficit reduction package of spending cuts and tax revenue that will delay the effective date of steeper automatic cuts now scheduled to kick in on March 1. Obama said the looming cuts would be economically damaging and must be avoided.
The president reiterated his insistence on long-term deficit reduction that combines taxes and cuts, a blend that faces stiff resistance from anti-tax Republicans in Congress.
Obama made his case Tuesday afternoon in the White House briefing room, just minutes after the Congressional Budget Office released revised budget projections that showed the deficit will drop to $845 billion this year, the first time during Obama’s presidency that the red ink would fall below $1 trillion. The budget office also said the economy will grow slowly in 2013, hindered by a tax increase enacted in January and by the automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect this spring.
It is those cuts that Obama is seeking to put off with less onerous measures. Neither the president nor White House aides specified what those measures should be.
“There’s no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy, not to mention the growth of the entire economy, should be put in jeopardy just because folks in Washington couldn’t come together to eliminate a few special interest tax loopholes or government programs that we agree need some reform,” Obama said.
Obama said Congress needs more time to work out a 10-year plan worth more than $1 trillion in deficit reduction. Obama did not place a time span or a dollar amount on the short-term plan. Officials said he will leave that to Congress.