In his record-breaking $4 trillion budget proposal released Monday, President Obama ignores budget caps imposed under the Budget Control Act and boosts domestic and defense spending by 7 percent. The budget plan represents welcome news for nearly every federal agency, namely those responsible for the most important items on Obama’s agenda: immigration, climate change, health care, infrastructure and defense.
Congressional Republicans, however, have already deemed the budget dead on arrival, in part because it imposes new taxes on the wealthy to help finance initiatives aimed at the middle class, including free community college, and because it carries a $474 billion deficit price tag – with deficits extending into each of the next 10 years.
The White House’s 2016 blueprint nevertheless offers the best glimpse at the president’s priorities. The Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security would see some of the biggest spending increases, in part to combat growing r threats from ISIS and other terrorist groups.
The proposal also beefs up the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget as Obama attempts to charge ahead with major climate change initiatives. It also ramps up the Internal Revenue Service’s budget as the agency begins enforcing 46 new provisions crucial to Obamacare’s success.
A number of agencies, however, received only moderate increases or even some small spending cuts, including the Army Corps of Engineers.
Obama also wants Congress to consolidate several programs under the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Federal Drug Administration’s food inspection program.
The plan seeks to create a new department that merges the Commerce Department, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Investment Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development agency – part of an effort to save money and avoid overlap. It’s unlikely that Congress will grant the president the authority to do this.
The proposed changes all come from discretionary spending. Any real savings can only come through changes to mandatory spending, which comprise about two thirds of the total budget and include entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Here’s a look at how well five agencies fare under Obama’s budget:
Environmental Protection Agency (+5.8 percent)
The budget plan calls for $8.6 billion for the EPA -- roughly $450 million more than allocated last year. There are also other initiatives to combat climate change, including setting up a $4 billion fund for states to help curb pollution at power plants, provided Congress agrees to it, and $2.3 billion for a clean drinking water program for states.
Department of Transportation (+31 percent)
Obama has repeatedly said improving America’s crumbling infrastructure is a top priority. The DOT’s $23 billion operating budget would go toward infrastructure reform: repairing and improving roads, bridges, rails, etc.
The plan would hike highway and transportation spending to $487 billion over the next six years – and would seek taxes from wealthy corporations on profits made overseas to help pay for the massive plan.
Housing and Urban Development: (+10.3 percent)
The plan calls for an operating budget of $48.3 billion, in part to allow HUD to restore more than 67,000 housing vouchers to the poor that were eliminated under sequestration. The budget would also allocate $500 million for a new housing program to help communities devastated by natural disasters.
Department of Homeland Security: (+ 9.1 percent)
The budget proposes $48 billion for DHS as Obama presses for immigration reform. An extra $162 million would go toward dealing with the crisis at the border, where unaccompanied minors are illegally entering the country from Mexico. It gives Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) an extra $27.6 million to help transport children caught across the border and beefs up Customs and Border Patrol’s technology and IT budget by $373 million. Meanwhile, the Secret Service would get an extra $8.2 million to retool White House security after several embarrassing breaches.
Defense Department (+ 7.7 percent)
The Pentagon’s spending cap would be lifted by $35 billion, increasing its overall 2016 budget to $585 billion, with operations and maintenance getting $209.8 billion, military personnel $136.7 billion and procurement $107.7 billion. The requests include an extra $10.6 billion for 57 F-35s, the embattled aircraft program, and provide $1.4 billion for submarines, $1.2 billion for a long-range bomber and $9.6 billion for missile defense systems. Service members and civilians would receive a 1.3 percent raise. Meanwhile, the overseas war budget would be reduced by 21 percent.
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