US & Canada

Barack Obama unveils $3.77tn budget plan

President Barack Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on 10 April 2013
Image caption President Obama unveiled his plan on a warm morning in the White House Rose Garden

US President Barack Obama has unveiled a $3.77tn (£2.4tn) budget that proposes fresh taxes on the wealthy along with cuts to benefit programmes.

The White House is offering to trim pensions and healthcare costs, but only in return for $700bn in new revenue.

However, the Obama plan is viewed as having no chance of being fully enacted by the deadlocked Congress.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell branded the budget a "left-wing wish list".

The Democratic president will host a dinner for Republicans on Wednesday evening to sell his proposals.

Conservatives have refused to agree to new revenue after passing tax rises on earnings over $400,000 in January.

Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have balked at Mr Obama's compromise offer to cut Social Security pension payments.

'Meeting half way'

Mr Obama's budget aims to reduce the US deficit by an additional $1.8tn over 10 years, bringing total potential reductions to $4.3tn, according to administration estimates.

Cuts in the plan include about $400bn to government health spending, and about $130bn from Social Security, by changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated.

Elderly and disabled recipients with the lowest incomes would be shielded from the changes.

The cost-of-living adjustments would also raise $100bn in revenue over 10 years through changes to tax brackets.

Additional cuts would include $100bn each from military and domestic programmes as well as reductions in farm subsidies and federal employee pension programmes.

Mr Obama proposes raising revenue by eliminating income deductions for the top 2% of earnings and includes the president's oft-repeated Buffett Rule, requiring households with incomes of more than $1m to pay at least 30% in taxes.

The plan also includes some new spending aimed at improving the US economy, including $50bn in infrastructure and $1bn for 15 manufacturing institutes across the country.

Mr Obama has previously cited infrastructure spending as the best possible investment to propel an economic recovery.

His blueprint would replace automatic, across-the-board cuts - known as sequestration - to both military and domestic programmes that began on 1 March.

Those cuts took effect after Democrats and Republicans failed to agree to another plan to cut spending and reduce the US budget deficit.

Negotiations over the next US budget are expected to run into the summer, but the White House says the document released on Wednesday is not an opening offer.

"I have already met Republicans more than half way," Mr Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

"So in the coming days and weeks I hope that Republicans will come forward and demonstrate that they're really as serious about the deficit and debt as they claim to be."

But House of Representatives budget committee Chairman Paul Ryan argued that Republicans had made enough concessions.

"It goes over old ground. It takes more from families to spend more in Washington," said the Wisconsin congressman, who was the Republican vice-presidential candidate last year.

Mr Ryan's budget proposal, already passed in the Republican-controlled House, sets out $4.6tn in deficit reduction.

Most of the savings would be realised through reductions in healthcare spending and other domestic programmes, without additional tax revenue.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites