President Barack Obama proposed a budget yesterday that would cut the US deficit by $1.1 trillion (£690bn) over the next 10 years, but Republicans said it did not curb spending deeply enough.
Conservatives accuse Mr Obama, a Democrat, of being a tax-and-spend liberal, and they aim to make the 2012 presidential election a referendum on his fiscal track record.
President Obama said his plan was a balance between deficit-reduction pain and investment for growth. But it provided only a general guide on how to tackle entitlement outlays that include the social security and Medicare programmes responsible for huge government spending.
"The fiscal realities we face require hard choices," he said in a message to Congress accompanying the budget.
"A decade of deficits, compounded by the effects of the recession and the steps we had to take to break it... has put us on an unsustainable course. That's why my budget lays out a path for how we pay down these debts," he said. Months of wrangling will now follow in Congress with Republicans, who control the House of Representatives.
"The President talks like someone who recognises that spending is out of control, but it hasn't been matched with action," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.Reuse content