Obama's four steps for fiscal reform

In a major speech Wednesday on fiscal policy, President Obama will lay out four steps he thinks the federal government should take if it wants to balance its budget.

Obama will talk about the need to keep domestic spending low, cut defense spending, reform Medicare and Medicaid and reform the tax code, according to a White House official.

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The White House provided no more specifics on the four steps to be offered in his afternoon speech at George Washington University. But an official said his plan would "borrow" from the recommendations of the 2010 fiscal commission that Obama empaneled, but whose proposals he never fully embraced.

"The president will make clear that while we all share the goal of reducing our deficit and putting our nation back on a fiscally responsible path, his vision is one where we can live within our means without putting burdens on the middle class and seniors or impeding our ability to invest in our future," the official said. 

The administration has closely guarded the specifics of its plan, refusing to provide many details to the media. Obama will meet Wednesday morning with congressional leaders in both parties, though, to offer a preview of his remarks.

Republicans are entering that meeting with a large degree of skepticism, warning flatly that they won't accept any proposals that raises taxes.

"This is vintage Obama. Two months ago he was in a posture where he was basically ignoring this huge fiscal challenge we've got before us and this debt burden that we're under and calling for more investment," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Wednesday morning on CNBC. "And now he's coming in at the last minute."

Cantor said Republicans at the White House meeting would most like to hear specifics on entitlement reform. The House GOP is set to vote this week on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) 2012 budget blueprint, which would make significant changes to Medicare and Medicaid, two programs Obama is set to address in his speech.

Liberals in the Congress, meanwhile, have sternly warned Obama against big changes to those programs.