WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama was setting up another clash with Republicans by sending Congress a $4 trillion budget Monday that seeks to raise taxes on wealthier Americans and corporations and increase domestic spending.
Republicans, who now control all of Congress, accused the president of seeking to revert to tax-and-spend policies that will harm the economy while failing to do anything about the budget's biggest problem _ soaring spending on government benefit programs.
The Obama administration said the budget represented a strategy to strengthen the middle class and help "hard-working families get ahead in a time of relentless economic and technological change." Obama's budget emphasizes the same themes as his State of the Union address last month, when he challenged Congress to work with him on narrowing the income gap between the very wealthy and everyone else.
"This country's better off than it was four years ago, but what we also know is that wages and incomes for middle class families are just now ticking up," Obama said in an interview broadcast on Monday's "Today Show" on NBC. "They haven't been keeping pace over the last 30 years compared to, you know, corporate profits and what's happening to folks in the very top."
Obama is releasing his budget as the economy improves, the federal deficit drops and his poll numbers climb higher.
Obama's new budget offers an array of spending programs and tax increases on the wealthy that Republican lawmakers have already rejected. But it puts Republicans in the politically awkward position of rejecting tax cuts for middle-class families.
The president also wants to give a huge boost to spending on infrastructure, funded by a one-time tax on profits US companies have amassed overseas.
Obama would ease tight budget constraints imposed on the military and domestic programs back in 2011, when attempts at a bipartisan budget deal failed. His budget will propose easing those painful, automatic cuts to the military and domestic agencies with a 7 percent increase in annual appropriations.
Many Republicans support the extra military spending but oppose increased domestic spending. Republicans control both houses of Congress for the first time in Obama's presidency.
Obama's fiscal blueprint, for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, would leave a deficit of $474 billion. Obama's budget plan never reaches balance over the next decade and projects the deficit would rise to $687 billion in 2025.
The administration contends that various spending cuts and tax increases would trim the deficits by about $1.8 trillion over the next decade, leaving the deficit at manageable levels.
Obama also is calling for a $60 billion program for free community college for an estimated 9 million students if all states participate. It also proposes expanding child care to more than 1.1 million additional children under the age of 4 by 2025 and seeks to implement universal pre-school.
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential nominee and new chairman of the powerful tax-writing House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, accused the president of exploiting "envy economics." Interviewed on NBC's "Meet the Press," Ryan said, "This top down redistribution doesn't work."