President Barack Obama's spending cuts proposals for the years ahead are much smaller than the Republican proposal a week ago.

Obama called for $2 trillion in reduced spending over the next 12 years. House Republicans last week proposed $5.8 billion in cuts to federal spending over the next 10 years.

Obama's attempt to address the nation's debt problem calls for and end to Bush era tax breaks for the top 2 percent of earners, those earning more than $250,000 per year. He opposed a Republican plan to keep the tax cuts in place.

Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined.  The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that's who needs to pay less taxes? 

They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that's paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs?   That's not right, and it's not going to happen as long as I'm President, Obama said.

He said removing those tax breaks would raise $1 trillion over the next 12 years.

In December Obama said he allowed a 2-year extension for the tax breaks because it was the only way he could secure a 2-year tax break extension for those earning less than $250,000.

In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans.  But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society.  And I refuse to renew them again, Obama said.

Obama called for formal talks with House and Senate negotiators to begin in May.

Maya MacGuineas, President of the non-profit group known as the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, noted that Obama's aim to reduce federal deficits by $4 trillion came over a 12 year period, in contrast to 9 year proposal by a Fiscal Commission he ordered into existence last year to suggest solutions.

It is extremely encouraging to have the President joining the discussion, said MacGuineas. But the plan itself contains less in savings than the White House Fiscal Commission recommended, which we look at as the minimum of what is needed to reassure credit markets and get our debt levels back on track.