2011-02-15 18:11:39

Obama calls for peaceful response to Middle East protests

U.S. President Barack Obama says Egypt's new military rulers were sending the "right signals" about moving toward democracy but he criticized the Iranian government for its violent repression of peaceful protests. President Obama was speaking to press at the White House were he also outlined his 2012 fiscal budget released Monday.

Obama told reporters governments throughout the Middle East should recognize their populations' hunger for change and provide a peaceful pathway to greater opportunity. In the wake of the uprising in Egypt and similar unrest in Bahrain, Yemen and now Iran the US leader says it is clear that a young, vibrant generation is calling for greater
freedoms in the Middle East.

But the main focus of Tuesday’s meeting with the press was the Obama administrations’ 3.7 trillion dollar fiscal budget for 2012. It aims to reduce the deficit by 1.1 trillion over 10 years with a mix of spending freezes on domestic programs, pay hike suspensions for federal civilian workers and new revenues from increased taxes on the wealthy and on oil and gas producers.

However the administration's budget does not address structural changes in the pension
plan known as Social Security or the elderly health care program known as Medicare. They are the two largest items in the federal budget. President Obama defended his decision to avoid any overhauls to these programs, saying the two parties must work together to find compromise.

On Tuesday White House budget director Jacob Lew began the Obama administration's defence of its proposed budget on Capitol Hill, with an appearance before the House Budget Committee. But the debate on the budget will likely last all year, as both sides position themselves for elections also in 2012.

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