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Obama to deliver budget on February 13, delayed one week

U.S. President Obama talks to the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup champions at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Obama talks to the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup champions at the White House in Washington

By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will release his 2013 budget proposal on February 13, the White House said on Monday, delaying by a week the outline of his spending priorities as he gears up for an election-year campaign dominated by taxes, jobs and the U.S. deficit.

Congress is free to ignore Democrat Obama's suggestions and Republicans, who control the U.S. House of Representatives, are likely to declare it dead on arrival.

The budget is supposed to be released on the first Monday in February, which this year would have been February 6. Republicans complained that delaying it by a week showed an "abdication of leadership" by the president.

The budget for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, will include the latest forecasts for U.S. growth and debt -- both topics that Republicans are using to attack Obama as they try to deny him a second White House term.

U.S. growth has been too tepid to quickly reduce the jobless rate, although unemployment has declined to 8.5 percent from a 10 percent peak in 2009, and anxiety over the country's economy will be a key issue in the November election.

"Having buried Americans under trillions of dollars of debt, the president and his party's leaders remain unwilling to account for their spending spree," said Republican Representative Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee.

In September Obama laid out what amounted to a mini-budget in recommendations to cut the deficit by $3.6 trillion, based a mixture of spending controls and tax increases.

He is expected to repeat many of those recommendations, which include allowing tax breaks for wealthier Americans to expire at the end of this year, alongside measures to control the growth in healthcare costs focused mainly on providers.

Obama also is likely to preview some of these suggestions in his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, which is expected to include recommendations for tax breaks to encourage firms to bring jobs back to the United States.

Obama will propose lifting a federal pay freeze to give government employees a 0.5 percent wage increase. The move, ending a two-year pay freeze imposed in 2010 on 2 million civilian workers, compared to a 1.7 percent increase for fiscal 2013 mandated under law, and would save $26 billion over 10 years.

(Reporting By Alister Bull; Editing by Jackie Frank and Bill Trott)

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