WASHINGTON (AP) - Calling for fiscal restraint even while federal spending soars, President Barack Obama pledged to dramatically slash the annual budget deficit and announced $15 billion in Medicaid money to states from his $787 billion economic stimulus package.
"We cannot and will not sustain deficits like these without end. ... We cannot simply spend as we please and defer the consequences," the president said Monday. He said the government must both confront the current economic crisis and address skyrocketing deficits or "we risk sinking into another crisis down the road."
"I refuse to leave our children with a debt they cannot repay," Obama declared.
The president summoned allies, adversaries and outside experts to a White House summit to address the nation's future financial health one week after signing into law the gargantuan stimulus measure designed to stop the country's economic free fall and, ultimately, reverse the recession now months into its second year.
By Obama's own account, the new law will add to this fiscal year's deficit, which the administration projects will be $1.5 trillion. Obama said he will at least cut that in half by the end of his first term 2013.