For the first time in Obama’s presidency, this year’s budget deficit is forecast to come in at less than $1 trillion. And it’s shrinking fast. For weeks now, the White House has been sending the message that the deficit problem is all but solved.
But there’s still the matter of the “sequester,” deep automatic budget cuts that are set to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies in two weeks, and other fiscal deadlines later this year that threaten to shut down the government and cause the Treasury to default.
On Tuesday, the president said: Enough already. He called on congressional Republicans to work with him to replace the sequester with a more sensible deficit-reduction plan that pursues two of their most important goals: reining in the cost of federal health programs and rewriting the tax code to get “rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected.”
It was not immediately clear whether the White House would sweeten this offer by putting new Medicare changes on the table, or by agreeing to a tax reform framework that would lower individual tax rates, as Republicans desire. A White House fact sheet released along with the speech suggested no fresh policy positions.