Obama pledges to cut deficit in half
By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer 33 mins ago
AP President Barack Obama addresses the National Governors Association, regarding the economic stimulus.
WASHINGTON President Barack Obama has vowed to cut the country's budget deficit in half by the end of his first term. Obama laid out the guiding principle of his budget policy at a White House conference. He said he believes the time has come for "a frank conversation" about the problem and said the deficit, projected to total $1.3 trillion this year, must be brought under control.
Obama declared the country "cannot and will not sustain deficits like this without end."
He also said that he wants to reinstate a pay-as-you-go policy on federal spending programs, get rid of programs that do not work and end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Calling for fiscal restraint even while federal spending soars, Obama summoned allies, adversaries and outside experts to a White House summit Monday to address skyrocketing budget deficits and announced $15 billion in Medicaid money to states from his $787 billion economic stimulus package.
"As we take the steps that we must to get through the crisis we're in now, we will not lose sight of the long-term," Vice President Joe Biden said as he opened the event. Obama's No. 2 promised that the administration would be frank with the public about budget challenges, though he also said there was a need to reform the nation's health care system and wean the United States off heavy reliance on foreign oil.
The summit came one week after the president signed into law the gargantuan stimulus measure designed to stop the country's economic free fall and, ultimately, reverse the recession now months into its second year. The new law is certain to add to this fiscal year's deficit, which the administration projects will be $1.5 trillion.
Obama led the summit to address the nation's future financial health after meeting with Republican and Democratic governors who are poised to benefit from his unprecedented emergency spending-and-tax cut measure.
On the one hand he is speaking truthfully; we cannot go on spending like we have. But as so much money is given away on entitlements I don't believe for an instant what he wants will become anything real.