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Obama to propose spending freeze

on 11/01/2019

US President Barack Obama will propose a five-year freeze in non-security discretionary spending in his annual State of the Union address, an official said.

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Obama, who had previously proposed a three-year freeze on such spending, starting with the 2011 budget, will unveil the move as part of efforts to trim the huge US deficit, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The freeze would impact spending negotiated by the president and Congress each year, and not include mandatory programs the government is legally bound to finance, such as Social Security retirement payments.

The official said that Obama would also seek cuts and efficiencies outside the parameters of the partial freeze, for example in a five-year plan to save $78 billion in defense expenditures.

Republicans gave a tepid reaction to indications of the partial budget freeze, saying that it suffered from the same deficiencies as the three-year freeze, and vowing to redouble their efforts to make deep cuts of their own.

“It freezes in place an extraordinary increase in spending that’s occurred over the last two years,” said top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, who endorsed a House of Representatives plan to revert to 2008 spending levels.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner, called the Obama approach “inadequate.”

“Rather than lock in the consequences of Washington Democrats’ job-destroying spending spree, we pledged to cut spending to pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels and impose real spending caps,” he said.

“That’s a far more serious plan to cut spending and help create jobs.”

Setting the stage for the Republican arguments, the Republican-led House voted on Tuesday to approve a non-binding resolution calling for a return to 2008 spending levels.

Nearly 20 Democrats sided with Republicans as lawmakers voted 256-165 in favor of the measure.

Separately, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House would vote the week of February 14 — around the time Obama was due to unveil his yearly budget — on renewing a stopgap spending bill that expires March 4.

Obama was to deliver his key annual address at 9:00 pm (0200 GMT) on Tuesday, under pressure from Republicans savoring their takeover of the House of Representatives and seeking massive budget cuts.


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