President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on Congress to pay for its programs with spending cuts or tax increases in a fresh bid to rein in ballooning federal budget deficits.
"The pay-as-you-go rule is very simple: Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere," Obama told lawmakers gathered at the White House.
"My administration is submitting to Congress a proposal to codify this rule in law — and I hope that the House and Senate will act quickly to pass it.
"Paying for what you spend is basic common sense. Perhaps that’s why here in Washington it’s been so elusive."
The president has been accused by Republican allies of running up the deficit to finance the biggest government intervention in the economy in decades, including his 787 billion stimulus package.
But the White House argues irresponsible policies by the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress over the last eight years inflated the deficit, and say the economic crisis is so deep only huge spending can provoke recovery.
Obama, however, has pledged to cut the budget deficit that he inherited in half by the end of his mandate in January 2013.
On Monday, a Gallup poll showed that 51 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama’s performance in controlling federal spending.
The White House last month raised its 2009 and 2010 deficit forecasts each by nearly 90 billion dollars, reflecting the cost of fighting the economic crisis, in a finalized 3.6 trillion dollar budget.
The updated data showed a deficit of 1.841 trillion dollars for 2009. Original estimates had forseen a 1.750-trillion-dollar deficit in fiscal 2009, which ends September 30, then a decrease to 1.171 trillion dollars in 2010.
Republicans complained that Obama’s plan was a "thinly-veiled excuse" to raise taxes to bankroll more spending.
"In the coming weeks, they plan to raise taxes to finance a government takeover of health care, once again putting a bulls-eye on the backs of the American middle class," said John Boehner, the top Republican in the House of Representatives.
"We don?t need more rhetoric and gimmicks."