Alan Silverleib and Tom Cohen
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama unveiled his long-awaited deficit reduction plan Wednesday, calling for a mix of spending reductions and tax hikes that the White House claims would cut federal deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years without gutting popular programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Obama's plan includes a repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts on families making more than $250,000 annually - something sought by Democrats but strongly opposed by Republicans. The president also called for the creation of a "debt fail-safe" trigger that would impose automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax changes in coming years if annual deficits are on track to exceed 2.8% of the nation's gross domestic product.
The president claimed that by building on or adjusting the health care reform bill passed last year, $480 billion would be saved by 2023, followed by an additional $1 trillion in the following decade. For example, he proposed tightly constraining the growth in Medicare costs starting in 2018.
"Doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option," Obama said in the speech at George Washington University, adding that "our debt has grown so large that we could do real damage to the economy if we don't begin a process now to get our fiscal house in order."
Obama's approach seeks to carve out a political middle ground between conservatives - who are pushing for deficit reduction based solely on spending cuts and expected economic growth - and liberals, who are generally resisting entitlement reform and seeking higher corporate and personal taxes.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with