Hagan: Obama's budget deficits 'unsustainable'

ELON, N.C. Hagan, drawing a contrast from the nation's top Democrat, said she has been working to limit the growth in non-defense spending in the budget. She questioned the Obama plan that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would place the country under a $1.2 trillion annual deficit even a decade from now.

"I agree with a number of ideas in President Obama's budget, but I was particularly concerned about the deficit spending in his proposal," Hagan said in a speech at the North Carolina Associated Press Broadcast annual meeting at Elon University. "It's completely unsustainable and unacceptable."

Her decision to renounce even some of the popular president's ideas comes as a striking contrast to her campaign last year, when she cozied to his mantra of change as North Carolina voters swept both into office. It underscores her eagerness to depart from the large-government plans of her party even as she tries to influence legislation as a backbencher in Washington's upper chamber.

The Democratic lawmaker who took office on Capitol Hill just three months ago said she has been working with colleagues to cut the growth in non-defense spending from 12 percent in Obama's budget to 6 percent. The former state Senate budget writer said politicians right now need to discourage spending that does not create jobs or improve the economy.

"We have to address entitlement reform and we need a comprehensive tax reform," she said.

At the same time, Hagan criticized the Obama plan for cutting agricultural spending by billions of dollars.

Hagan was pleased that Obama was putting the full funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget, along with relief from the alternative minimum tax. And she praised his investments in educational spending, including the Pell grants.

The native of Greensboro also argued that Obama and lawmakers had been handed a difficult financial situation.

"President Bush left behind an absolutely abysmal fiscal legacy -- an economy in a crisis and a budget in a deep deficit," Hagan said. "We know how we got where we are now, but it's our job to look forward, not backward."

She said she wasn't sure whether she would vote for the budget, saying minor and major changes could still be coming.

"This next week in the Senate is going to be a grueling week," she said.

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