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Pioneer Editorial: Obama plan shows how deep debt is

President Barack Obama's $3.7 trillion budget falls short in turning around the nation's mounting federal deficit, but it takes federal spending down that road.

With the national debt exceeding $14 trillion and annual deficits of more than $1 trillion, it will take a number of years to put the budget back on an even keel.

President Obama's 2012 budget balances cuts with revenue, with some saying the budget cuts go too far. It is true we must all share in the pain, but those provisions put in place to prevent falling through the cracks should remain in place.

The president's proposed cuts in the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program go too far in a program that isn't adequately funded now as it is. It is especially needed in a cold-weather state such as Minnesota. Says fellow Democrat Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota: "I worry some of the specific cuts proposed will hurt Minnesotans disproportionately, particularly cuts to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program that would mean that nearly 50,000 households in Minnesota could lose LIHEAP assistance. Anyone who's lived through a Minnesota winter knows that you simply can't go without heat. There are other, better areas to cut spending, such as rolling back more tax cuts to oil and gas companies. As the budget process moves forward I will fight to make those changes."

We hope the Obama administration, working with Congress, finds other places to cut spending that won't drastically affect vulnerable adults and families, as would such a cut to LIHEAP aid, which aids seniors and low-income families through the winter.

Likewise, the president makes cuts in other domestic programs that are designed for vulnerable Americans but leaves virtually untouched Social Security and Medicare, both huge federal spenders. The president's own debt commission made reasonable recommendations there, but which probably won't be embraced by either the president or the GOP Congress.

The budget would begin raising revenues of $1.6 trillion over the decade, most of it by allowing the recently renewed tax cuts by the taxes to be reimposed on families making more than $250,000 a year. That only seems fair and progressive, not unlike a similar philosophy of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who released his biennium budget plan on Tuesday.

More sources of revenue need to be tackled, as well as other areas of spending cuts, such as the Pentagon and foreign aid, because even with the president's plan, the national debt will soar from $14.2 trillion to nearly $21 trillion by 2016.

We simply cannot allow that, as that heavy a national debt could lead to economic ruin.