WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said on Saturday he was determined to carry out budget cuts needed to improve America’s balance sheet, but insisted on making key investments in the country’s future.
The president unveils his spending blueprint on Monday, with White House officials saying it will freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years and help the United States reduce the budget deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade.
“We’ve stripped down the budget by getting rid of waste,” Obama said in his weekly radio address.
“For example, we’re getting rid of thousands of government-owned buildings that sit empty because they aren’t needed,” the president explained.
“I’ve also proposed freezing salaries for hard-working government employees, because everyone has to do their part. And I’m going to make sure politics doesn’t add to our deficit, by vetoing any bill that contains earmarks.”
But Obama said his administration was determined to continue making what he called “job-creating investments” in roads, high-speed speed trains, and broadband Internet connections.
He also emphasized the need of creating new industries like clean energy and biotechnology, improving schools and making college more affordable.
“So, after a decade of rising deficits, this budget asks Washington to live within its means, while at the same time investing in our future,” the president stressed. “It cuts what we can’t afford to pay for what we cannot do without.”
The comments came after the US Treasury Department reported Thursday that the budget deficit in January was $49.8 billion, a 16.8 per cent rise from a year earlier but less than had been expected.
The number was encouraging as analysts had forecast a figure in the range of $59.5 billion.
Nevertheless, expenditures grew 11.3 per cent year-on-year in January, faster than receipts, which increased only 10.2 per cent.
It was the 28th consecutive month that Washington spent more than it took in in taxes.
Overall, the US national debt has now reached $14 trillion with a $1.5 trillion yearly government deficit.