VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. Aug 18 President Barack
Obama, who wants Congress to boost jobs while also controlling
the national deficit, has asked government agencies to identify
cuts of 5 and 10 percent in their 2013 budget proposals.
White House budget chief Jack Lew, in a blog posted on the
White House website on Thursday, said he had asked for budget
submissions to give Obama options in meeting deficit-cutting
targets agreed in a recent deal to lift the U.S. debt limit.
"To meet this goal we asked agencies to provide budgets
based on two scenarios: a five percent cut and a 10 percent
cut," Lew said. His request, made on Wednesday, seeks cuts in
discretionary spending from funding levels in 2011.
Obama's reelection hopes next year hang on his success in
lowering unemployment, currently pinned above 9 percent, while
easing public concerns about the high U.S. deficit and debt.
Spending reductions in social programs that help the poor
are likely to be resisted stoutly by Obama's Democrats, while
Republicans traditionally oppose trimming defense spending.
Lew said the instruction did not mean Obama would impose
such cuts on an individual agency's budget, or on all budgets.
"We do not believe in making across-the-board cuts;
rather, we believe that we should cut what is wasteful or not
essential," he said.
Congress lifted the U.S. debt limit by $2.4 trillion
earlier this month and agreed to seek spending reductions that
would lower the deficit by at least that amount over 10 years.
"We asked agencies to provide these two options so that the
President can have the information needed to make the tough
choices necessary to meet the hard spending targets," Lew
Obama, who arrived on the Massachusetts island of Martha's
Vineyard on Thursday for a family holiday, will urge Congress
next month to take fresh steps to boost hiring.
He will also propose that a special congressional
committee, set up to find deficit savings, seek reductions of
more than $1.5 trillion over 10 years in order to permit more
government spending to boost growth and jobs now.
(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Alister Bull; editing by Todd
Eastham; email: firstname.lastname@example.org;