By Alister Bull
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, seizing on Republican plans to slash deficits that the White House sees as a potent vote winner for Democrats in this year's election, slammed his opponents on Tuesday to reinforce his claim that they favor the rich.
In a week in which Republican Mitt Romney is expected to extend his lead in the race for his party's nomination to confront Obama in the November 6 election, the president took aim at their recent budget plans to cut spending and taxes.
"This congressional Republican budget ... it's a Trojan horse. Disguised as deficit reduction plan, it's really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country," Obama will say at a speech in Washington, according to excerpts of his remarks.
The budget proposal, passed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives last week, would reduce the deficit by cutting spending while reforming the tax code, including lowering the top rate of tax to 25 percent from 35 percent.
They say it is an answer to Obama's spending policies, which they blame for record U.S. deficits on his watch.
It has no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate and becoming law in this Congress. But White House officials say the goal of the speech will be to hammer home a message that if Republicans win in November, their budget is coming to America.
Stepping up the campaign against Romney, one of the richest men to ever to seek the White House, Obama officials say the president will also make remarks on Friday at a conference on women in the economy.
This focuses on a vital voter demographic that looks to be swinging hard his way after a new poll on Monday showed Obama opening a large lead over Romney among women in key election swing states.
Senior Obama officials say they were not surprised by the poll's findings after recent remarks about birth control by Republican candidates on the campaign trail, which they said sounded like an echo from the 1950s, and were a clear turn-off for many young U.S. women.
Romney has said he would end federal funding for the Planned Parenthood women's health organization that provides abortion services and Rick Santorum, his chief rival for the Republican nomination, has called contraception morally wrong.
Romney hopes to all but wrap the race up this week by winning election contests in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington D.C., pressuring Santorum to stand aside to unite the Republican party in the goal of defeating Obama in November.
Senior White House officials said the president would use the Tuesday speech, at an Associated Press luncheon, to press his priorities on taxes, the future of federally provided Medicare healthcare, and a defense of the middle class they hope will peel vital blue collar voters away from Republicans.
Officials told reporters at a Monday briefing that the goal of fairness in the tax system captured by Obama's so-called Buffett Rule would be a core part of the message, ahead of a tax vote in the Senate later this month.
Named after billionaire Obama backer Warren Buffett, who complained last year that he payed a lower tax rate than his secretary, Obama says the Buffett Rule is a standard that should guide Congress as it seeks to tackle the U.S. deficit and debt.
The Republican budget plan caps discretionary spending on things like education and infrastructure and cuts spending on welfare programs for the poor including for food stamps and housing.
The blue print also proposes broad tax reform, including the closure of loopholes to raise revenue, while advocating a simplification in the tax code that would include lowering the top tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.
Obama will call the budget proposal "thinly veiled Social Darwinism", according to his prepared remarks.
"In this country, broad-based prosperity has never trickled down from the success of a wealthy few. It has always come from the success of a strong and growing middle class," he will say.
The speech will be delivered at a Washington event at 12:30 p.m. (1630 GMT).
(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)