Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.
October 12, 2007
Thank you for taking the time to join me today.
Yesterday, we reported the federal deficit has fallen by $250 billion over the last 3 years. At just 1.2 percent, the deficit is now half of the 40-year average, which is 2.4 percent of the economy.
By restraining spending in Washington, and allowing Americans to keep more of what they earn, we can continue to reduce the deficit and balance the budget in the next five years.
I look forward to your questions.
fred, from Irvine, CA writes:
But I take your point. We have a huge budgetary challenge on the horizon namely, the unsustainable growth in important programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
The President has offered sensible reforms on Social Security and also Medicare and Medicaid. These modest changes now have a big impact over time. In his budget, he offered proposals saving $92 billion over five years. These translate into substantial savings in Medicare nearly $8 trillion or 25 % of the programs unfunded obligations.
But, theres still much more to do. The President will continue to talk about the real and dramatic choices we face if steps arent taken to prevent this fiscal train wreck. But for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need Congress to begin to take action.
Michael, from Powell, Tn writes:
Congress is currently proposing discretionary spending increases of $205 billion over the next five years on top of the Presidents budget request over the next five years. $205 billion averages out to about $112 million per day.
And the way they plan to pay for all that extra spending is to raise taxes.
Families are working hard to pay their mortgages or pay for their childrens college education. Now is not the time to take more money out of their pockets.
Jason, from Mobile, AL
Failure to fix them will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge benefit cuts or massive amounts of debt.
So, we've got to tackle this problem now for the sake of seniors, young people and our country's economic future.
The President has proposed some reforms to strengthen and preserve Social Security.
Congress has not taken any steps yet to deal with this problem, but Im encouraged that the Senate Budget Committee has started a dialogue of how we can address this huge challenge.
We must keep working toward solutions for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.
Shahab, from Saratoga,CA writes:
The Presidents education initiative, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), is already working to ensure all students perform at or above grade level in reading and math by 2014. A September 2007 report card on the program shows in math, the scores for 4th and 8th graders were higher than they've ever been. In reading, the scores for 4th graders were also the highest on record.
The President recently signed a bill that will help families afford college for their children, including an increase in Pell Grants from $4,310 in 2007 to $5,400 by 2012.
In addition, to offering a 20 percent increase in the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, the President also has proposed changes to the tax code that will help support families that dont get their health care through their jobs.
Small businesses and civic and community groups should be able to band together to leverage their bargaining power for access to affordable health care and we should reduce frivolous lawsuits that increase patients' costs.
The entitlement programs for health care, Medicare and Medicaid, are huge parts of our federal budget and help support older Americans and those who need financial assistance.
Joshua, from Mason City, IA writes:
The good news is that this year's deficit fell from $248 Billion for 2006 to $163 Billion for the fiscal year that just ended October 1, 2007. Pro-growth tax policy and spending control does work after all.
Michael, from Amherst, MA
Despite war costs and Katrina, weve reduced the deficit substantially three years in a row.
The deficit is now lower than it has been in five years and, as a percentage of the economy, the deficit is lower than when President Reagan was in office.
We are not proposing cuts in annual domestic spending. They will continue to grow, but will do so in a fiscally responsible way.
Matt, from The University of Miami
The toughest part is being Dr. No. There are many worthwhile projects, but my job is to focus limited resources on the Nations key priorities.
CLIFF, from BRIMFIELD, OHIO writes:
The President has proposed reforms and Treasury Secretary Paulson and I will continue our dialogue with lawmakers. We encourage you to let your Congressman and Senator know you support reforms.