President Obama pledged yesterday to pare the projected deficit by $4 trillion in the next 12 years, vowing to protect the nation's most vulnerable while pushing again for higher taxes for its richest citizens.
In a 43-minute speech that mixed appeals for a united sense of purpose with sharply partisan jabs, the president laid out his vision of a country strengthened both by fewer debts and a greater diligence to solving the problems of Medicaid and Medicare. In promising to preserve those programs, he enlists his administration in the beginning of what is expected to be an epic battle with Republicans over their fate.
"We are a better country because of these commitments,'' he said in an impassioned defense of Medicaid and Medicare against Republicans' push for sweeping changes. "I'll go further - we would not be a great country without those commitments,'' according to
The president's 2012 budget proposal in February didn't endorse the Dec. 1 proposal by the debt-panel chairmen, former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, a former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton.
While Obama's speech lacked details for overhauling entitlement programs, it may boost negotiations on how to cut the nation's long-term debt, said Jason Peuquet, a policy analyst for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based bipartisan group that examines fiscal issues.
"This is a huge step forward," Peuquet said,
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea