President Barack Obama's budget – set for unveiling Wednesday – is expected to ruffle feathers on both sides of the aisle as he seeks to set forth a "balanced" vision for reducing the deficit, while still making key government investments in areas like research and technology.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, was outside the White House Tuesday protesting Obama's proposal to effectively slow the growth of Social Security payments made to seniors and the disabled.
Republicans, meanwhile, are already ridiculing the White House for putting out a proposal that doesn't balance the budget over time.
But Jay Carney, an Obama spokesman, said the White House would be presenting a "good faith" budget aimed at actually achieving a spending deal with Congress, where Republicans remain in control of the House.
"Democrats and allies understand that this budget the president will put forward tomorrow is not his ideal budget," he said during a briefing with reporters Tuesday. "It is a document that recognizes that to achieve a bipartisan solution to our budget challenges we need to make tough choices."
Carney said the president has already moved to reduce the deficit by $2.5 trillion and that if his budget proposal were to take effect the total deficit reduction over a 10-year period would be $4.3 trillion. The country's debt totals about $16 trillion, but Carney argued that the president's proposal would meet economists demands to "stabilize" the debt.
"We need to move forward through a budget process that ensures that we protect the middle class; provide ladders of opportunity to those who aspire to the middle class; that we invest in education, and infrastructure, and innovation; and that we, as part of a broad budget approach, continue to reduce our deficit," Carney said.
He added the deficit reduction would be achieved through a combination of slowing entitlement growth, raising revenues through tax reform and making other cuts.
"For every dollar in revenue, more than $2 of it comes in spending cuts," Carney said.
The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, recently passed a budget that would raise taxes by $1 trillion and the Republican-controlled House approved their own measure that would balance the budget in 10 years, achieved by deep cuts to current spending.
Obama, who has been increasingly reaching out to Republicans to help make the case for his agenda, will be hosting a White House dinner with 12 Senate Republicans Wednesday evening to hold a wide-ranging discussion likely to include budget talk.
While there's no expectation lawmakers will pass his proposal as is, Carney said Obama hopes to negotiate the line between the two political parties. However, the biggest stumbling block to agreement on fiscal issues in the past has been Republican reluctance to raise taxes to pay down the deficit – they would prefer to use increased revenues achieved through tax reform to go to lowering tax rates overall. And on that front, both sides remain at odds.