WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will send Congress on Monday a $3 trillion-plus budget for 2012 that promises $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade by freezing many domestic programs for five years, trimming military spending and limiting tax deductions for the wealthy.
Jacob Lew, the president's budget director, said Sunday that the new spending plan for the 2012 budget year beginning Oct. 1 would disprove the notion that "we can do this painlessly ... we are going to make tough choices."
Republicans rejected that appraisal, castigating Obama for proposals that will boost spending in such areas as education, public works and research, and charging that Obama's cuts are not deep enough.
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They vowed to push ahead with their own plans to trim $61 billion in spending from the seven months left in the current budget year and then squeeze Obama's 2012 budget plan for billions of dollars in additional savings in response to voters alarmed at an unprecedented flood of red ink.
"He's going to present a budget tomorrow that will continue to destroy jobs by spending too much, borrowing too much and taxing too much," House Speaker John Boehner said on NBC television's "Meet the Press." Boehner released a statement from 150 economists calling on Obama to take immediate action to reduce government spending.
Lew, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," rejected criticism that the $1.1 trillion deficit-cutting goal fell far short of the $4 trillion in deficit cuts outlined by the president's own bipartisan deficit commission in a plan unveiled last December. That proposal would attack the biggest causes of the deficits — spending on the benefit programs Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — and defense spending.Story: Obama’s budget seeks deep cuts in domestic spending
Medicare and Medicaid are the government-funded programs that provide health care coverage to the elderly, poor and disabled. Social Security provides monthly payments to retirees.
Obama's budget avoided the painful choices put forward by the commission on benefit programs. Lew said it would be a mistake to say the report did not have an impact on the president's proposals.
An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the budget was released, said one-third of the $1.1 trillion in deficit reduction the administration is projecting over the next decade would come from additional revenue with the bulk of that reflecting the administration's proposal to limit tax deductions by the wealthy for charitable donations, mortgage interest payments and state and local taxes.
The administration has said that its five-year freeze will save $400 billion over the next decade with many programs slated for even bigger cuts. Community development block grants would be trimmed by $300 million and the government's program to help low-income people pay their heating bills would be cut in half for a savings of $2.5 billion, according to an Office of Management and Budget summary.Story: Obama reportedly to seek changes in Pell Grants
That document also said that the budget would cut the Pentagon's spending plans over the next decade by $78 billion with reductions in various weapons programs deemed unnecessary including the C-17 aircraft, the alternative engine for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and the Marine expeditionary vehicle.
The OMB summary said that the $1.1 trillion deficit savings would reduce the deficit as a percentage of the total economy to 3 percent of GDP by the middle of this decade. The deficit is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to surge to an all-time high of $1.5 trillion this year, which would be 9.8 percent of the economy and mark the third consecutive $1 trillion-plus budget gap.
The surging deficits reflect the deep 2007-2009 recession, which cut into government tax revenues as millions were thrown out of work and prompted massive government spending to jump-start economic growth and stabilize the banking system.
Republicans scored significant victories in the November elections by attacking the soaring deficits while the Obama administration argued that the spending was needed to keep the country from falling into an even deeper economic slump.
Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Darlene Superville and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.
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