Obama's big 2010 budget explained

Published: Wednesday | March 4, 2009

President Barack Obama (left) and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown walk from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington yesterday. The two met for a working lunch in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House. - AP


President Barack Obama's top aides promoted his ambitious budget package before Congress yesterday, blaming the previous Republican administration for creating a situation that made the massive plan necessary.

Obama's proposed $3.5-trillion budget blueprint for the 2010 fiscal year is part of a series of efforts to reverse America's harrowing economic slide. Wall Street remained on edge a day after the economy took another hit when the Dow Jones industrial average plunged far below the 7,000 mark to end at 6,763 - the lowest close for the Dow since 1997.

Efforts to reverse meltdown

Obama also turned his attention to global efforts to reverse the economic meltdown, meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Answering press questions after their meeting, Obama compared the stock market to the daily tracking polls used during electoral campaigns, saying that paying too close attention to how Wall Street "bobs up and down" could lead to bad long-term policy.

Obama and his top aides unveiled an outline for his budget package last week, but Tuesday marked the first time lawmakers could publicly question top officials about the details.

$1.3-trillion deficit

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday that Obama entered office facing a $1.3-trillion deficit - about 10 per cent of the nation's economic output. Republicans have complained that Obama's budget proposal would balloon that deficit even higher to $1.75 trillion.

Geithner said that additional spending is necessary because the previous administration was unwilling to make long-term investments in health care, energy and education.

The US economy still faces the threat of a financial implosion, which put the economy in reverse, despite a $700-billion financial bailout package set up by the former President George Bush's administration.