Obama takes combative tone with Congress in touting $3.8T budget

President Obama sent Congress a $3.8T budget proposal Monday that he says is a “reflection of shared responsibility” and aims to pour billions of dollars in increased spending into the down economy to inject some immediate life there.

Appearing at Northern Virginia Community College, Obama — who continued to hammer home his policies aimed at helping the middle class — said that while the budget he put forward included “some difficult cuts,” it aims to help the economic recovery accelerate.

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“The economy is growing stronger, recovery is speeding up and the last thing we can afford to do right now is to go back to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” Obama said. “We can’t afford it. The last thing we need is for Washington to stand in the way of America’s comeback.”

Obama’s proposal includes $350 billion in stimulus measures and $476 billion for transportation and infrastructure that would be partially paid for by savings from the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It would reduce projected deficits by $3 trillion over 10 years. That reduction would be achieved through $1.5 trillion in new taxes, including the end of Bush-era tax rates for families with income above $250,000 annually; $800 billion in savings from the end of the two wars; $278 billion in mandatory spending cuts; and $360 billion in Medicare and other entitlement cuts.


Republicans argue using the war savings is just a budget gimmick, and that the savings in healthcare comes from assuming cuts to Medicare payments to doctors will be made without saying how they will be paid for.

“Today we are witnessing one of the most spectacular fiscal cover-ups in American history," Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in a statement.

Obama said the “main idea” behind his budget is that “at a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track.”

Highlighting the key points of his budget, Obama renewed his call to focus on insourcing, strengthen American manufacturing and reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil. At the same time, he also, once again, called on Congress to pass a payroll tax cut extension later this month.

“We’ve been through this before, remember?” Obama said, referring to the payroll tax fight late last year. “We’ve seen this movie. We don’t need to see it again. The time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy has to be over. Now’s the time for action. Now’s the time for all of us to move forward.”

Seeking to continue to cast himself as a warrior for the middle class, Obama hammered home his theme of “fair play and shared responsibility.” In his 30-minute remarks, Obama also briefly touched on the so-called “Buffett Rule,” retelling the story about how billionaire investor Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

“That’s not fair,” Obama said. “It doesn’t make sense at a time when we’ve got to pull together to keep the country moving.”

Responding to his critics, he said to applause, “That’s not class warfare. That’s common sense.”

In an election year, the budget stands a slim chance of passing.

Even before Obama released his budget proposal on Monday, Republicans seized the moment to criticize him for failed promises because he had promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. The current budget proposal comes after a fourth year of deficits exceeding $1 trillion and a 2013 shortfall of more than $900 billion.

But on Monday, appearing at the community college where second lady Jill Biden teaches English, Obama attempted to push forward on his “blueprint" for an America "built to last.”

Following up on his State of the Union address last month, Obama also called for a commitment across the country to help train more than two million workers.

On Monday, Obama announced a new $8 billion fund that would forge alliances between community colleges and businesses in an effort that would train two million workers for jobs in high-demand fields such as healthcare, transportation and advanced manufacturing.

“Employers today are looking for the most skilled educated workers,” Obama said. “I don’t want them to find them in India or China. I want businesses to find those workers right here in the United States. “

To support the president’s community college plan, Biden, who has taught at community colleges for the last 18 years, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will be take part in a bus tour, appearing at community colleges to tout the partnerships. Arne Duncan, the Education secretary, will also crisscross the country to promote the plan.

Erik Wasson contributed to this story.