President Obama will call for a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs, including education, and for increases no greater than inflation after that — an initiative intended to signal his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit, reports the New York Times. Administration officials said the proposal, which could affect schools already struggling with steep cuts to state and local budgets, would be a major component of Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 27 and of the FY2011 budget he will send to Congress on Feb. 1. The freeze would cover the agencies and programs for which Congress allocates specific budgets each year, including education, but it would exempt security-related budgets for the Pentagon, foreign aid, the Veterans Administration, and homeland security, as well as the entitlement programs that make up the biggest and fastest-growing part of the federal budget: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The payoff in budget savings would be small relative to the deficit, but it could have important political implications: Perceptions that government spending is out of control have contributed to Obama’s loss of support among independent voters. Administration officials are working with Congress on roughly $150 billion in additional stimulus spending and tax cuts to spur job creation. But much of that spending would be authorized in the current fiscal year, so it would not be affected by the proposed freeze that would take effect in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1…

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