President Barack Obama on Monday said his proposed 2012 budget keeps his pledge to cut the federal deficit in half by the end of his first presidential term in two years.
The budget plan also puts the US government on a path “to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade,” he said in an appearance at a middle school outside Baltimore.”
“We do this in part by eliminating waste and cutting whatever spending we can do without.”
The 3.73 trillion-dollar spending blueprint pledges 1.1 trillion dollars in deficit savings over the next decade.
As he announced in his State of the Union address last month, the President noted that he has called for a freeze on annual domestic spending over the next five years.
The freeze would cut the deficit by more than USD 400 billion over the next decade, bringing domestic discretionary spending to its lowest share of the US economy since the 1950s, he said.
“I am also looking forward to working with members of both parties to take steps beyond this budget freeze, because cutting annual domestic spending will not be enough to meet long-term fiscal challenges,” Obama said.
Some savings will come through less waste and more efficiency, he said.
As one example, the President called for “getting rid of 14,000 office buildings, lots and government-owned properties we no longer need,” saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
Obama said his administration would demand accountability, and reward people inside and outside government who deliver results. He also again pledged to veto any bill that contains earmarks, which are funds added during the budget process by individual members of Congress for pet projects in members’ political districts.
The only way to truly tackle the deficit is to cut excessive spending “wherever we find it, in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes,” he said.
“We have begun to do some of this with 78 billion dollars in cuts in the Defense Department’s budget plan, by ending tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and through billions of dollars in savings from wasteful health spending,” he added.
However, even as the government cuts things “that we can afford to do without, we have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future, and that is especially true when it comes to education,” Obama said.
The President said his administration was spearheading a drive to prepare more than 10,000 new math and science teachers over the next five years, and train 100,000 more current teachers in those fields.
Obama said his administration was on track to see America, by 2020, once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
Education, innovation and infrastructure are investments “that we need to win the future,” he said.