"I think there is pretty broad agreement that the time for austerity is not today," said Jacob Lew, Obama's chief of staff, said in TV appearances Sunday, according to the Associated Press. "Right now we have an economy that's taking root.... Austerity measures right now would take the economy in the wrong way."
In his radio address Saturday, Obama called on Congress to extend a key part of his program for US job growth: a temporary payroll-tax cut (due to expire at the end of February) to boost the economy by keeping more income in workers' pockets. On Monday, as the budget document was being relayed to Congress, Obama pitched more funding to help community colleges boost the job skills of American workers.
"At a time when our economy is growing and creating jobs at a faster clip, we've got to do everything we can to keep [recovery] on track," Obama said at a community college in Annandale, Va. Businesses are looking for the workers with the best skills, he said, and "I don't want them to find them in India or China."
Republicans in Congress fired back with their view that Obama's budget, by raising taxes on the wealthy and not doing more to rein in spending, will damage the economy. They also say Obama is falling short of his own of his own goal of cutting the deficit in half within four years of taking office.
"The Democrats’ spending addiction is all the more alarming considering that America’s economy remains weak and the nation’s growing debt burden poses a serious threat to job-creation and economic growth," the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a statement issued Monday.