Obama to Call for 5-Year Spending Freeze

Measure would only hit non-defense discretionary items
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2011 1:38 PM CST
On the day of his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama strides from the Oval Office along the Colonnade at the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Barack Obama will call for a five-year freeze on non-defense discretionary spending in his State of the Union address tonight, calling it “a down payment toward reducing the deficit,” a White House official tells the Wall Street Journal. The official said Obama would also look for “cuts and efficiencies” in many areas, and back Robert Gates’ plan to slow defense spending growth. He will, however, still call for increased spending in other areas, including infrastructure and education.

Obama's plan wouldn’t affect Medicare or Social Security, which together with defense spending make up the lion’s share of the budget. Obama would also exempt homeland security spending and foreign aid. The pledge is essentially an extension of the one he made at last year’s address. Some Democrats opposed the move then, but it was implemented by default when Congress failed to pass a spending bill for the year. (For why it will be nearly impossible for Obama to give a great speech tonight, click here.)

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