President Barack Obama's budget, to be released Monday, maps long-term debt cuts while boosting the economy now, White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew said.
Obama "will be presenting a budget that does $4 trillion of deficit reduction over 10 years," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"It does it in a way that builds an economy in America that can last," Lew said. "It does it by developing manufacturing, the skills that we need in this country, energy independence and calling for shared American values where everybody, you know, has a fair shot, does their fair share and plays by the same rules."
But the next fiscal year's $3.8 trillion budget -- which Obama was to unveil at 11 a.m. EST at a Virginia community college to highlight his proposed investments in a skilled workforce -- would also produce a deficit of about $1 trillion for a fifth straight year, budget figures leaked to several news organizations indicated.
Congressional Republicans seized on the deficit projections, noting Obama failed to keep a 2009 promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.
The 2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion and the White House projects a $1.33 trillion deficit this year. The budget offers a $901 billion budget gap in fiscal 2013, The Washington Post reported.
Lew argued on all five Sunday talk shows Obama was forced to take expensive action to shore up an economy in far worse shape than anyone had imagined.
Debt reduction is still a top Obama administration priority, but cutting the deficit too fast would hurt an economy whose growth is finally becoming established, said Lew, who served until recently as Obama's budget director.
"The American people should be pleased that we now have a recovery that's taken root," he told NBC. "The job growth is across all the sectors of the economy. It's not the result of people leaving the workforce -- it's the result of private-sector job creation."
"The thing that we have to be careful about is to make sure that Washington doesn't get in the way," Lew said. "Last year we saw an awful lot of instances where Washington's dysfunction became part of the uncertainty and the problem in the economy."
Obama's budget, which the Post said mirrors recommendations Obama made in September to the congressional debt-reduction "supercommittee," calls for fresh increases for roads, infrastructure, manufacturing and education.
It also calls for a year-long extension of emergency unemployment benefits and a temporary payroll tax holiday, the Post said.
The plan also proposes $1.5 trillion in higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, including the expiration of the tax cuts passed during the George W. Bush administration on income over $250,000 a year.
About $850 billion would come from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- figures Republicans blasted as gimmickry because the expected drawdown of troops means the money would likely never be spent.
Lew defended the war savings on "Fox News Sunday."
"Closing down this back door is part of making sure we got those savings -- it's very real," he said. "I guarantee you that if we don't take the action that's been proposed, there will be leakage, and that money will end up being spent."