Obama unveils budget with call for "fair" economy

President Barack Obama speaks about the "Community College to Career Fund" and his 2013 budget at Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Barack Obama
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

President Obama today sent his fiscal year 2013 federal budget to Congress, giving lawmakers a blueprint to enact the vision Mr. Obama laid out in his State of the Union address of an economy based on "fair play and shared responsibility." The budget sets up this year's political debate over the national debt and how to stimulate economic growth.

"At at time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we've got to do everything in our power to keep this recovery on track," Mr. Obama said Monday morning at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia.

Mr. Obama's budget shoots for $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, but it seeks to balance that with $350 billion in stimulus programs beginning this year, including job creation initiatives and infrastructure building.

"We can't cut back on those things that are important for us to grow," the president said. "We can't just cut our way into growth."

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His plan sticks to the budget caps Congress approved last August, which are intended to save $1 trillion over the next decade. It also calls for $360 billion in Medicare and Medicaid savings in Medicare and Medicaid, achieved mainly through reduced payments to health care providers.

The budget also calls for the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, which Mr. Obama extended for two years in 2010, for families making $250,000 or more per year. Mr. Obama's budget also enacts his proposed "Buffett rule" (named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett), requiring households making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

"Keep in mind a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than middle class households," Mr. Obama said. "That's not fair. It doesn't make sense at a time we've got to pull together to get the country moving."

budget
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
The budget projects yet another year of trillion-dollar deficits. The physical copies of the budget arriving at the House Budget Committee hearing room Monday morning seemed to illustrate Republican complaints that Mr. Obama isn't doing enough to reduce government spending -- the fork lift carrying the budget booklets struggled to squeeze through the door.

The size of the budget also illustrates the heavy lifting necessary to speed up the economic recovery. Mr. Obama delivered remarks at the Northern Virginia Community College to highlight one element of his budget aimed to get more people into the workforce. The $8 billion Community College to Career Fund, which will be run by the Departments of Labor and Education, will help foster partnerships between community colleges and businesses to train two million workers for jobs in high-demand industries.

"An economy built to last demands we do everything we can to help students learn the skills businesses are looking for," Mr. Obama told the crowd at the Northern Virginia school. "It means we have to keep strengthening American manufacturing. It means we've got to keep investing in American energy... But it also means we've got to renew the American values of fair play and shared responsibility."

Mr. Obama's budget assumes Congress will extend the payroll tax cut for another year, as well as 99-week unemployment benefits. It calls for a $50 billion upfront investment in transportation, $30 billion to modernize schools and another $30 billion to retain or hire teachers and first responders.

Mr. Obama said the nation will be able to afford investments in the near-term by reducing the deficit in the longer-term. His budget, he said, proposes "some difficult cuts that, frankly, I wouldn't normally make if they weren't absolutely necessary."

The Republican party on Monday was quick to point out that many of the president's budgetary proposals -- including the community college fund -- are ideas Mr. Obama has pitched before. The Republican National Committee points out Mr. Obama spoke at the very same community college in June of last year to tout Skills for America's Future, an initiative to improve industry partnerships with community colleges.

The president's budget is unlikely to go anywhere in Congress and will simply remain fodder for both Democrats and Republicans over the course of president's re-election campaign. On CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Mr. Obama's budget has no chance of passing, and to prove it, he'll put it up for a vote in the Senate. He pointed out that last year, Mr. Obama's budget was defeated by a vote of 97-0 in the Senate.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican in the Senate Budget Committee said Monday the president's plan amounts to a "tax and spend budget" that "lulls the American people into the belief the concerns they have are being taken care of."

By proposing more spending, the president has "punted again" on the debt, said Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee.

"This is not a fiscal plan to save America," he said, "it's a political plan for the president's re-election."

Politics or substance? Watch CBS MoneyWatch Executive Editor Jack Otter and CBSNews.com Senior Political Reporter Brian Montopoli discuss the budget in the video below.

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