Indiana congressman calls for budget compromise

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As a March 1 deadline looms, a northern Indiana congressman is demanding that the U.S. House and Senate work together to avert deep across-the-board budget cuts.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky tells The Times of Munster that Congress has had repeated chances to pass a long-term deficit-reduction plan. The Indiana Democrat says lawmakers must find ways to responsibly reduce federal spending.

If Congress does not compromise on a government spending plan, $85 billion in automatic spending cuts will take effect March 1.

Those budget cuts would cost Indiana schools nearly $28 million. Visclosky says sudden, deep cuts to the state's schools would hurt the current economic recovery.

The spending reductions could also affect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' work on Little Calumet River levees in northwestern Indiana.

Denis McDonough, the White House's new chief of staff, says President Barack Obama is concerned about the effect the automatic budget cuts will have on America's middle class.

McDonough said that the economy has been getting stronger over the past few months. He cites improvements in housing, the stock market and consumer confidence.

He says the cuts will affect education, mental health services and food safety.

McDonough says the White House will push for what he calls a reasonable amount of spending cuts coupled with additional tax revenue.

Republicans oppose any tax increases, but the White House will insist on cutting federal red ink "in a balanced way."

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