Leading Congressional Republicans are disputing President Barack Obama's recent statements that under his budget plan for 2012, which includes a 10 year outlook, the government will not spend more money than it's taking in by 2017.
At issue for Republicans is an accusation that the President's statements mislead since they don't acknowledge the interest payments on debt which need to be made.
In every year of the President's budget, the federal government would spend more than it takes in. It's all laid out in the White House's own budget tables, the office of House Speaker John Boehner R-OH noted on a blog in the representative's website on Wednesday.
In 2011, the government expects to take in $2.174 trillion while spending $3.819 trillion. For every year between 2012 and 2021, the Obama budget states the expectation that the government will run a deficit no smaller than $619 million.
My budget freezes spending for five years and what that does is solve the short term problem by saying we're not going to spend anymore money than we're taking in, he said in an interview at the White House with Cincinnati's WCPO TV on Wednesday.
The budget puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade, Obama said when unveiling the budget on Monday.
On Tuesday, during a hearing on the budget, Jacob Lew, the White House Office of Management and Budget Director said the Administration was bringing the budget into primary balance by 2017.
Primary Balance is a term that indicates balanced government spending and intake, but does not include interest payments on the federal debt.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development defines Primary Balance as government net borrowing or net lending excluding interest payments on consolidated government liabilities.
Sen. Jeff Sessions , R-AL on Tuesday told Lew that the Administration's position was inaccurate.
I want to stress again my displeasure with your statement that our budget will get us over the next several years to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say, 'We're not adding to the debt anymore, we're spending money we have each year, and then we can work on bringing down the national debt.' I believe that's inaccurate, Sessions said.
Under your plan, the President's plan, at the end of your 10-year budget the interest will be $844 billion in one year, dwarfing all these other agencies and departments and expenditures - something that we've never seen before in our country and that threatens our debt structure and our economy, he added.
Lew replied that interest was a concern.
I don't disagree that we have to take on the debt and we have to pay down the debt and reduce the interest payments and the only thing I take issue with is ... Lew said, before Sessions cut in to ask if the budget does that.
Lew said that the budget gets us to the point where we stop adding to the problem with our new spending.
We do have interest payments. We have to control those interest payments in the future, Lew said later. There's a down payment. We have to finish the job.