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Obama makes sales pitch for his 2012 budget


President Barack Obama makes a statement about Egypt in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young
President Barack Obama makes a statement about Egypt in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama made a sales pitch on Saturday for his forthcoming fiscal year 2012 budget, pledging that it would help the United States "live within our means while investing in our future."

The budget, due to be unveiled on Monday, contains a mix of cost cuts and targeted spending to achieve Obama's twin goals of reducing the deficit and boosting U.S. competitiveness.

But Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, have balked at any spending increases and accused the Democratic president of not being serious about reining in the deficit, which is forecast to reach $1.48 trillion this fiscal year.

The 2012 fiscal year begins on October 1.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama highlighted his plan to freeze non-security discretionary spending for five years, which the White House says will reduce the deficit by $400 billion over the next 10 years.

"We've stripped down the budget by getting rid of waste," he said in the address, adding that the government would get rid of thousands of empty buildings and freeze salaries on "hard-working government employees" as part of the push.

Obama said the budget proposes to invest in roads, high-speed trains, broadband Internet, clean energy and education. After a decade of rising deficits, Obama said, "I'm proposing a new budget that will help us live within our means while investing in our future," he said.

Republicans, who have a sales pitch of their own to make, said Obama's budget was not taking the deficit problem seriously enough.

"The president's proposal for a freeze in government spending might give the White House a nice talking point. But it is a totally inadequate solution to our nation's spending problems," Senator Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in his party's weekly address.

"If the president's new budget simply freezes his last budget, he'll stifle job growth by continuing to spend too much, tax too much, and borrow too much."

(Editing by Will Dunham)

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