WASHINGTON – U.S. President Barack Obama's call for $447 billion in tax cuts and new spending to revive the flagging economy puts extra pressure on a recently constituted congressional committee just as it starts work on reducing the nation's deficit, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
As lawmakers headed out from the president's joint address to Congress, in which he called for expanding a payroll tax cut and spending on transportation projects, they described a new weight on their shoulders.
"It obviously makes our work more difficult," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a member of the deficit-reduction panel. "He has just added to the debt tonight with additional ideas."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., a member of the supercommittee, told reporters that "it adds to our challenge."
Obama also layered on a potential new challenge when he said that on Sept. 19, he would release a "more ambitious" plan that would cover the cost of his jobs plan and also "stabilize our debt in the long term."
Coming less than two months after Obama tried to reach a deal with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years, Obama appeared to be suggesting that he was still pushing for a "grand bargain" that goes beyond the $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions mandated by the new debt law.
In particular, Obama called for changing entitlement programs such as Medicare, whose program covering hospital stays will be exhausted in 2024, according to the latest projections from the program's trustees.