Obama to say 'painful cuts' are needed to tackle the deficit

He will say that some deficit spending was necessary in the recession.

"Some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people’s pockets. But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in,” Obama will say.

As expected, he will propose freezing domestic spending for the next five years, a move he will say would save $400 billion over the next decade.

“This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years.  I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.” 

He will say that he recognizes Republican calls for deeper cuts but he does not want to hurt vulnerable citizens or investments in the future.

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact,” Obama will say.

Obama will not use the speech to endorse the conclusions of his debt commission, but will say the commission was right to say entitlements have to be reformed.

“This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit,” he will say.

Obama will say he is open to new ways to bring down healthcare costs, including tort reform.

Finally,  Obama will not, as liberals feared, call for cuts in Social Security. His precise wording does not put all cuts off the table, however, just any “slashing” of benefits.

“To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.  And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market,” he will say.