A presidential speech Wednesday already has brought flak about tax increases.
President Obama, jumping into a debt-reduction debate that will help define the rest of his term, will outline his ideas Wednesday for curbing the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and taking other steps to turn around the nation's spending habits.
Ahead of his effort, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio warned that House Republicans would not consider any plan that includes tax increases.
Obama will give congressional leaders of both parties a preview of his speech, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. CDT Wednesday at George Washington University, during a private meeting at the White House in the morning. The White House has refused to discuss details, but Obama is expected to call for a "balanced" approach of shared burdens that takes on entitlement programs, defense spending and taxes.
The president's move also is intended to serve as a counter to a major Republican proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan's plan would seek to cut close to $6 trillion in spending over the next decade, built around a drastic reshaping of Medicare and other federal safety-net entitlement programs, and would lower the tax rate for the nation's top payers.
Democrats and White House officials acceded to deep budget cuts in programs for the poor, the environment and civic projects, according to new details of a $38 billion spending cut package for fiscal 2011, part of the deal that narrowly averted a government shutdown.
Among the cuts:
• A $500 million reduction in funding to the federal health and nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as WIC.
• The Environmental Protections Agency, spared from restrictions sought by Republicans on its ability to regulate air and water pollution, will endure a $1.6 billion budget cut, a 16 percent decrease over current levels.
• Community health centers that serve low-income people will lose $600 million.
Liberal activists are questioning why President Obama is embracing the image of deficit cutter rather than job creator.
MoveOn.org, whose membership mobilized for Obama's election in 2008, issued an e-mail blast to members Tuesday decrying the president's deal with the GOP last week and the prospect that he might embrace some of his deficit commission's ideas on deficit reduction.
Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn, said many of its 5 million members "worked their guts out" to help elect Obama. But, after the recent string of deal-making with the GOP and the president's apparent willingness to compromise on entitlements, he said the base could stay home in 2012.
"If the president and the Democrats don't stand up to Republicans, I don't see people coming out and doing the work that it would take to get them elected," Ruben said.
Another group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said that more than 60,000 liberals responded to an e-mail by committing not to donate to Obama's reelection campaign if he cuts Medicare or Medicaid.
And Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research, said Obama has apparently abandoned his view that increased spending is needed to stimulate the economy.