WASHINGTON (AP) — Confronting bipartisan criticism, President Barack Obama is conceding that his proposed budget is not his "ideal plan." But he says it offers "tough reforms" to the nation's benefit programs while closing loopholes for the wealthy.
Obama argues his approach will provide long-term deficit reduction without harming the economy.
In his first comments about a budget he is to release next week, Obama says he intends to reduce deficits while providing new spending for public works projects, early education and job training.
Obama says in his weekly radio and Internet address that he's willing to compromise to move beyond what he calls "a cycle of short-term, crisis-driven decision-making."
In the Republican address, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says that ideas for fixing the federal government are coming from the states.
Instead of making the hard choices to fix Social Security's financial problems, policymakers "use it as a tool of political rhetoric," Astrue said.
Astrue, 56, has headed the federal government's largest program since 2006 — he was nominated by former President George W. Bush. By law, Social Security commissioners serve six-year terms, so President Barack Obama will now have the opportunity to choose his own nominee, who must be approved by the Senate. Astrue's last day on the job was Wednesday.
The trustees who oversee Social Security say the program's trust funds will run dry in 2033, leaving Social Security with only enough revenue to pay about 75 percent of benefits. Already the program is paying out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes.
As commissioner, Astrue served as a trustee. He regularly urged Congress to address Social Security's long-term financial problems but refrained from publicly weighing in on various options to cut benefits or raise taxes — until now.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Astrue said benefit cuts and tax increases are inevitable — despite fierce opposition to both. Yet he questions whether Congress is up to the task.