GOP scoffs as Obama claims plans won’t add ‘a single dime’ to deficit

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Republican activists laughed at President’s Barack Obama’s claim that his new laundry list of spending programs won’t add 10 cents to the deficit.

“Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime,” Obama told the nation during his 2013 State of the Union speech.

His list of proposed programs include a national pre-school program, government aid in getting low-interest mortgages to millions of homeowners, a project to repair houses, more job-training programs and an increase in the minimum wage.

The GOP reacted promptly to Obama’s speech, which began at 9.00 pm. EST.

“FYI, Obama is right, he hasn’t added a single dime to the debt, he’s added 58.6 trillion dimes,” said a 9.41 p.m. message from Joe Pounder, the research chief at the Republican National Committee.

The committee quickly released a video showing Obama’s repeated claims that his policies would not cost a dime, and contrasting those claims with the $5.8 trillion in new debt created during Obama’s first four years.

However, Obama suggested that his extra spending will be offset by increased taxes, and should not increase the government’s near-$1 trillion annual deficit.

“To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and the well-connected,” Obama declared.

“Why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair?  Why is it that deficit reduction is a big emergency justifying making cuts in Social Security benefits but not closing some loopholes?” he asked.

Obama also said he was withdrawing U.S. troops from the Afghan war, likely allowing his aides to claim future savings from deep cuts to the military that he praised during the speech.

But at least one Democratic activist noted the apparent implausibility of the president’s “single dime” claim.

“While insisting that, ‘Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase the deficit by a single dime,’ he did not spell out how much these initiatives would add to federal spending or how their cost would be offset,” said a statement from Bill Galston, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton.

“He proposed no significant cuts in existing programs … [and] ducked the structural problems that dominate the long-term fiscal horizon,” said Galston, now at the left-of-center Brookings think tank.

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