In his continuing effort to try to gain the high ground of fiscal responsibility, President Obama will use his State of the Union address to expand his earlier proposal to freeze discretionary spending for several years.
Obama will say the discretionary part of the budget should be frozen for five years instead of the three years he proposed last year.
Such a freeze wouldn't affect entitlements or defense and homeland security spending. Those are the parts of the budget that comprise most of the upward pressure on the federal budget and which really must be controlled if growing deficits and federal debt are to be reined in.
But Obama clearly feels pressure to compete with Republican spending cut proposals as he and the opposition vie for those millions of voters concerned about the nation's unsustainable finances.
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The official refused to provide the administration's estimate of how much the deficit would be cut with the extended freeze. Last year, the White House said Obama's three-year freeze would save an estimated $250 billion over a decade and reduce the deficit by $10 billion to $15 billion in fiscal 2011.
Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in the November elections running on a pledge to cut about $100 billion from this year's budget, though that figure was later trimmed to $60 billion to reflect that about a third of the fiscal year has passed. The House today is set to adopt a non- binding resolution underscoring the plan to cut spending.