- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

President Obama said Saturday he will publicly push his key budget priorities in the coming week as Congress considers his $3.6 trillion proposal for 2010, acknowledging the numbers may change but saying he will insist that it invests in alternative energy, education, health care reform and deficit reduction.

“With the magnitude of the challenges we face, I don’t just view this budget as numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs. It’s an economic blueprint for our future,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio address.

The remarks came as a new Congressional Budget Office estimate projected a $1.8 trillion deficit this year, though the White House said the dramatic increase would not deter the president’s budget goals.

“These investments are not a wish list of priorities that I picked out of thin air — they are a central part of a comprehensive strategy to grow this economy by attacking the very problems that have dragged it down for too long: the high cost of health care and our dependence on foreign oil; our education deficit and our fiscal deficit,” Mr. Obama said in the address, released Saturday morning and posted in video form at WhiteHouse.gov.

“Now, as the House and the Senate take up this budget next week, the specific details and dollar amounts in this budget will undoubtedly change,” the president said. “That’s a normal and healthy part of the process.”

But he said he expects a budget that meets his four basic principles — “a clean, renewable energy future,” “complete and competitive education for every American child,” “serious investment in health care reform” and reducing the deficit.

He had a warning for critics of his health care agenda.

“To those who say we have to choose between health care reform and fiscal discipline, I say that making investments now that will dramatically lower health care costs for everyone won’t add to our budget deficit in the long-term — it is one of the best ways to reduce it,” he said.

Mr. Obama said he will talk about each element in the coming week, and his aides said the president will hold a clean energy event Monday, and other budget-focused events at the White House Thursday and Friday.

Mr. Obama will speak to Senate Democrats on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.

The president said in the address he expects a debate but said he won’t pass off the nation’s fiscal problems to the next president.

“The American people sent us here to get things done, and at this moment of great challenge, they are watching and waiting for us to lead,” he said. “Let’s show them that we are equal to the task before us, and let’s pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity.”

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