Ask the White House: How does the Obama administration plan to reduce the deficit?
After the President's speech Wednesday, MSN Money will ask a White House official your questions about the budget.
President Barack Obama is expected to call for tax increases for the wealthy and cuts to entitlement programs in his speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. He is also expected to criticize House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan, which includes a proposal to privatize aspects of Medicare.
If you have questions you'd like to ask the White House about the President's debt-reduction plans, you can leave them in the comment section of this post. After the speech, MSN Money will pose a few of your questions to a White House official and report on the answers.
Some analysts see the House spending plan and Obama's speech as the opening salvos in a battle that will likely extend through the 2012 presidential campaign. There is little expectation that major changes in the government's entitlement programs will occur until after the upcoming election. However, both parties will likely seek to convince voters that they have the best formula for getting the country out of its current deficit malaise.
On Tuesday, the Treasury Department reported that the deficit already totals $829.4 billion through the first six months of the budget year -- a figure that until 2009 would have been the biggest ever for an entire year. For March alone, the government ran a deficit of $188 billion.
President Obama and congressional Republicans averted a government shutdown by agreeing last week to the largest-ever spending cuts for a single year. But David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York, said those cuts amount to a "rounding error" in this year's deficit.
The cuts include unspent money from the 2010 census, which is completed, and $2.5 billion from the most recent repeal of highway programs that can't be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. They also include $3.5 billion in unused bonuses for states that enroll more children in a health care program for lower-income families.
Wyss expects the deficit will surpass the record of $1.41 trillion hit in 2009. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raised its estimate earlier this year from $1.1 trillion to $1.5 trillion. A tax-cut package negotiated in December by Obama and Republicans, which includes a one-year reduction in the Social Security payroll tax, prompted the CBO to raise its estimate.
Reporting from the Associated Press contributed to this post.