Obama deficit and debt reduction speech: A balancing act

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President Obama outlines his long-term plan to reduce the debt and deficit in a Wednesday afternoon speech at George Washington University. He’s got a challenge here: Obama has pressure from liberals and progressives–the base he needs energized to help him win a second term in 2012–to not cut many social safety net programs; he has to balance that with what seems to the White House a clear need to compromise with Republicans on a variety–but not all–fiscal matters.

Obama’s speech comes after House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) authored a fiscal 2012 budget plan with roll backs for Medicare, Medicaid and other deep cuts.

Meanwhile: will Congress and Obama raise the debt ceiling in May? The nation has more than $14 trillion in debt right now.

All this comes as Obama’s re-election campaign is ramping up and GOP 2012 presidential candidates are stepping up their drives–Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and yes, for now, birther Donald Trump.

Guidance from the White House on the upcoming speech comes in broad strokes; here it is:

On Wednesday, the President will lay out his vision for reducing our deficit based on the values of shared prosperity and shared responsibility in a speech at The George Washington University.

The President will advocate a balanced approach to controlling out of control deficits and restoring fiscal responsibility while protecting the investments we need to grow our economy, create jobs, and win the future. The President’s proposal will build off of the deficit reduction measures included in his 2012 budget and will borrow from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission he created.

The President will lay out four steps to achieve this balanced approach, including: keeping domestic spending low, finding additional savings in our defense budget, reducing excess health care spending while strengthening Medicare and Medicaid, and tax reform that reduces spending in our tax code.

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.

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