Obama Seeks to Use `Scalpel' Rather Than Across-Board Cuts to Trim Deficit

President Barack Obama said he isn’t going to use across-the-board cuts to reduce the federal deficit, which is projected to widen to a record $1.5 trillion.

“We want to cut with a scalpel as opposed to a chain saw,” Obama said in an interview broadcast online by Google Inc.’s YouTube. “Frankly, we’re just going to have to trim some of these programs.”

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, Obama proposed a five-year freeze on non-security discretionary spending that he projects will save $400 billion over 10 years.

For the second year in a row, Obama followed the address with an interview on YouTube with questions submitted by the public. Administration officials are also answering questions on other social media sites, including Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.

Obama singled out for possible cuts Community Action Grants to local governments, yet said the budget his administration will release next month will also include increases for some programs, such as education and research.

“We need to make sure that we’re staying on the cutting edge of new technologies,” he said.

Egypt, Afghanistan

The president faced questions on issues including the war in Afghanistan, protests in Egypt, education spending and the legalization of drugs, which Obama said he didn’t favor, though he said the government should focus more on treating addicts.

On education, Obama stressed the need to provide incentives for teachers to work in the most difficult schools and the importance of parents playing an active role in the teaching of children.

“Nothing government does replaces the importance of parents in education,” he said. “If we’re parents, we’ve got to step up our game.”

Obama said he has regularly told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has faced protests, that it is “absolutely critical” for the country to move forward on political and economic reforms. He also urged both protesters and the government to avoid violence.

Egypt, Obama said, needs “mechanisms for people to express legitimate grievances.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Johnston in Washington at njohnston3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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