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White House: Obama to lay out spending plan

By: The Associated Press//April 11, 2011

White House: Obama to lay out spending plan

By: The Associated Press//April 11, 2011//

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama this week will outline a broad plan to reduce the nation’s deficit, shifting from immediate budget concerns to the debate over the nation’s long-term economic health. Obama is expected to call for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and tax hikes for the wealthy.

“Every corner of the federal government has to be looked at here,” White House senior adviser David Plouffe said Sunday.

Obama’s proposals, to be unveiled in a speech Wednesday, follow the tense standoff between Democrats and Republicans over funding the government through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The House and Senate are expected to vote this week on the deal struck late Friday that would cut $38.5 billion in spending.

They were operating under a one-week extension of the federal budget, which passed the House and Senate in the last hour before the government was to begin shutting down.

The House, too, may vote this week on Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s spending plan for next year, which includes unprecedented spending cuts and a fundamental restructuring of taxpayer-financed health care for the elderly and the poor.

Democrats have said Ryan’s plan calls for “Draconian” cuts to Americans who need help the most.

“We can’t take a machete,” Plouffe said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We have to take a scalpel, and we’re going to have to cut, we’re going to have to look carefully.”

Plouffe, however, said Obama was committed to finding ways for the nation to spend within its means, including reducing Medicare and Medicaid, the government’s chief health care programs for seniors and the poor.

The upcoming fight over the next year’s election cycle budget and the debate over raising the nation’s debt limit could make Friday’s nail-biter to avoid a government shutdown seem minor. To be sure, the GOP had succeeded in turning what’s usually a fight over spending into a series of battles over spending cuts — a thematic victory for House Republicans swept to power by a populist mandate for smaller, more austere government.

“We’ve had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., on “Fox News Sunday.”

Plouffe said the president understands the mandate to dramatically cut spending. On talk show after talk show, he pointed to December’s bipartisan deal on tax cuts with Friday night’s agreement on this year’s budget as evidence that both parties can govern together when they want to.

“Compromise is not a dirty word,” Plouffe said.

Congressional officials still were analyzing Friday’s vote to fund the government through the week. The late hour of Friday’s handshake left lawmakers little time to react. House members of both parties who voted for a few days of funding could not say on Sunday that they’d vote for the plan to finance the government through September.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who voted “yes” Friday to extend funding this week while the final compromise was written, said he was nonetheless undecided on whether he’d vote for the final deal. On ABC’s “This Week,” he said he didn’t think the six-month compromise would pass.

On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., also a “yes” vote on Friday, would not commit to voting for the six-month deal either.

Pence praised House Speaker John Boehner for fighting “the good fight.”

“It sounds like John Boehner got a good deal, probably not good enough for me to support it, but a good deal nonetheless,” Pence said on ABC.

Friday’s tally also offered a look at Republicans likely to be the staunchest opponents of any compromises on spending and policy.

Twenty-eight of the “no” votes were cast by Republicans. Sixteen of those are members of the 87-member freshman class. Also voting no: tea party star and possible presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

“This short-term was just ‘same ol’, same ol’ for Washington,” one newcomer who voted “no,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, wrote on his Facebook page.

The $38.5 billion in cuts, Huelskamp wrote, “barely make a dent” in years of trillion-dollar deficits and the nation’s $14 trillion debt. Additionally, the measure lacked the policy riders he sought, such as one to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, though by law no federal money goes to its abortion services.

All told, Huelskamp wrote, the measure “ignores the fundamental reasons I and my fellow freshmen members of Congress were sent to Washington in November of last year.”

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