Coming Up In 2010: All About The Deficit

Lauren Victoria Burke
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Once a health care bill is finalized, the White House and Congressional Democrats will be swiftly transitioning to cutting the deficit.

Top aides on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue say 2010 will be the year of fiscal responsibility, even if President Obama has to battle with progressive Democrats to make cuts they won’t like.

“Next year the focus will be jobs and fiscal responsibility,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told TPMDC in a briefing with two reporters Thursday.Hoyer (D-MD) said one reason Democrats are having a tough time one year before the Congressional midterm elections is that voters are concerned about the nation’s fiscal health, and they also want to see the unemployment rate shrink.

He said he knows there may seem to be disconnect with those two things in short term, but in long term they make sense.

“The American public are right, we have to do both,” Hoyer said.

Deficit reduction over the long term will be the White House’s primary focus next year, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council conference last month it will be a “key component” of the president’s State of the Union address.

“It is foremost on his mind and the mind of the economic team,” Emanuel said.

Office of Management and Budget spokesman Ken Baer told TPMDC it will be a top priority.

“As part of the FY2011 Budget process we are exploring a range of options to put the country back on a fiscally sustainable path,” Baer said.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are pressuring Obama and Democratic leadership on spending, asking the president to veto the omnibus bill because it contains earmarks (notably from members of both parties) that he said he didn’t want porking up spending measures.

The GOP also has introduced the “Control America’s Purse-strings to Deliver a Better Tomorrow (CAP the DEBT) Act” and will attempt to force a vote on shutting down the Troubled Assets Relief Program and use the funds for debt reduction.

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