Alan Simpson, co-chairman of the White House's deficit commission last year, said if Mr. Obama's speech lacks details, it could be widely panned.
President Barack Obama will describe his plans for long-term deficit reduction Wednesday, in a move likely to kick off a months-long debate with Republicans while alienating some members of his own Democratic Party.
Mr. Obama is expected to praise the work of a deficit-reduction commission he created last year, which proposed a series of tax, spending and entitlement-program changes that would reduce the deficit by roughly $4 trillion over 10 years. He is also expected to pledge support for a bipartisan group of six senators working on legislation that would implement the panel's recommendations.
People familiar with the matter said he wouldn't fully endorse either of those approaches, but instead would lay out his own formula for deficit reduction. A key question is how detailed he will be in the speech. Mr. Obama didn't include proposals for long-term reductions in entitlement spending in his formal budget plan released in February.
In the meantime, House Republicans have taken the lead by releasing their own proposal for long-term deficit reduction, which they plan to bring to the House floor for a vote as early as this week.
Alan Simpson, a former GOP senator from Wyoming who was co-chairman of the White House's deficit commission last year, said if Mr. Obama's speech lacks details, it could be widely panned. "If it's going to be 'people need to do this and do that' without being specific, I think it will be to his detriment," he said.
With power split between the two parties, the odds aren't good that any detailed, long-term plan can be enacted this year. One alternative to passing a broad plan would be to enact a framework for deficit reduction with targets, details of which would be filled in after the 2012 election.
But many House Republicans say they won't vote to raise the government's debt ceiling in coming weeks without concrete steps to reduce the long-term deficit, which could force changes long before the election.