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Obama defends budget priorities

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Obama vows earmark vetoes
  • Obama says his $3.7 trillion plan for 2012 offers balance of investments, spending cuts
  • Key investments are needed in education, he says
  • He says the budget is a down payment on fiscal responsibility

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama defended his $3.7 trillion proposal for fiscal year 2012 on Monday, characterizing the plan as a successful balance of sorely needed new investments and long-term spending reductions necessary to reduce the federal debt.

"While it's absolutely essential to live within our means ... we can't sacrifice our future in the process," he said while discussing his blueprint at a school in Baltimore.

Obama's plan includes program cuts meant to reduce deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade while boosting targeted spending in areas such as education. Major entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid remain largely untouched.

Some liberals have complained the cuts in the president's budget are too deep, while conservative leaders have said his plan doesn't go far enough to cut the deficit.

New education spending is needed to make sure "every American is equipped to compete with any worker anywhere in the world," Obama said. "We have a responsibility to invest in those areas that will have the biggest impact in our future."

But we also need to do "better by demanding accountability," the president added. "If we're going to walk the walk when it comes to fiscal discipline," some cuts "are necessary."

"What we've done here is make a down payment" on fiscal responsibility, but more work needs to be done, he said.