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Budget Panel Chairman Says Obama 'Punting' on Fiscal Discipline

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FILE: Rep. Paul Ryan speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Feb. 10.AP

House Republicans' top budget planner said Sunday that President Obama's soon-to-be-unveiled budget proposal does not appear to go far enough in cutting back spending over the long term. 

"Borrowing and spending is not the way to prosperity," Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday." 

The Wisconsin lawmaker was responding to early descriptions out of the administration about Obama's 2012 budget plan, set for release on Monday. Officials say the plan will seek to cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. 

Ryan would not say, without seeing the proposal, whether his party would oppose it. But he said that based on what he's seen in press reports, the plan is "very small on spending discipline." 

He acknowledged that Obama is pushing a five-year domestic spending freeze, which the administration says will save $400 billion over 10 years. But Ryan said current spending levels are already too high and that sustaining those levels will not solve the "debt crisis," which he described as the biggest domestic problem facing the federal government. The deficit for this year is projected to hit $1.5 trillion, though House Republicans are trying to whittle that down with their own spending plan for the remainder of 2011. 

"It looks like the debt's going to continue rising under this budget," Ryan said of Obama's plan. 

He added: "Presidents are elected to lead, not to punt. And this president has been punting." 

The administration, though, is casting its proposals as a significant step forward in addressing the country's fiscal problems. 

"After a decade of rising deficits, this budget asks Washington to live within its means, while at the same time investing in our future," Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday. 

A senior administration official told Fox News that two-thirds of the $1.1 trillion in projected deficit reductions over the next decade will come from cuts. The remaining third will come from revenue increases -- which the official said would comprise a cap on itemized deductions and other loophole-closers. 

Among the proposals Obama is pitching, according to The Associated Press, is a $100 billion cut from Pell Grants over a decade. 

Ryan said he's hopeful Obama submits a proposal Monday that defies his expectations. 

"If it's what these early press reports show, it shows that he's abdicating leadership on that point," Ryan said.