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Obama 2015 budget focuses on boosting economy

By Alan Fram

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:07 a.m. HST, Mar 04, 2014


WASHINGTON >> President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.9 trillion budget Tuesday that would funnel money into road building, education and other economy-bolstering programs, handing Democrats a playbook for their election-year themes of creating jobs and narrowing the income gap between rich and poor.

The blueprint for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, is laden with proposals that fortify those goals. It includes new spending for pre-school education and job training, expanded tax credits for 13.5 million low-income workers without children and higher income taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

"Even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead," Obama said in his budget message to Congress. "And too many still are not working at all. Our job is to reverse those trends."

With an eye in part on job creation, money would be spent to upgrade highways and railroads, Veterans Affairs hospitals and national parks. Additional funds would be aimed at clean energy research, creating 45 public-private manufacturing institutes for spurring innovation and training workers whose companies have closed or moved.

To help pay for those initiatives and others, Obama envisions raising a "Buffett tax" -- named for billionaire Warren Buffett -- slapping minimum levies on the highest-earning people. Taxes would also be raised on tobacco products, airline passengers and managers of private investment funds.

Congress has ignored those revenue proposals and many of Obama's spending ideas before. With the entire House and one-third of the Senate facing re-election in November, campaign-year pressures and gridlock between the Democratic-led Senate and Republican dominated House all but ensure that few of the president's initiatives will go far.

"The president's budget is yet another disappointment because it reinforces the status quo," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "It would demand that families pay more so Washington can spend more."

The Republicans' recipe for accelerating economic growth includes cutting taxes or overhauling the entire tax code, and they criticize higher spending as wasteful.

Obama's budget claims to obey overall agency spending limits that were enacted in December after a bipartisan compromise was reached between Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the heads of the House and Senate budget committees.

Yet Obama was proposing an additional package of $55 billion in spending priorities, half for defense and half for domestic programs. These included extra spending for the Pentagon to purchase aircraft, grants to states for preschools, new research financed by the National Institutes of Health and modernization of aviation safety systems.

That extra spending would be paid for by cutting federal crop insurance, raising airline passenger fees and capping retirement account tax benefits for wealthy savers -- all of which would face an uphill climb in Congress.

The budget projects a 2015 deficit of $564 billion and a shortfall this year of $649 billion. If those come true, it would mark three straight years of annual red ink under $1 trillion, following four previous years when deficits exceeded that mark every time.

The president's spending plan also takes credit for reducing accumulated deficits over coming decade by $2.2 trillion. But nearly one-third of that comes from claimed savings from the end of the U.S. war in Iraq and the gradual withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan.

Critics argue that those savings are fictional because with the ending of U.S. involvement in those conflicts, no one had been expecting that money to be spent on combat.

Much of the rest of Obama's deficit reduction would come from other proposals with little chance of surviving in Congress, including higher taxes on the rich and cuts in government payments to Medicare providers. With declining budget deficits, it has become easier for lawmakers to avoid seriously considering the politically painful tax increases and spending cuts needed to significantly reduce the shortfalls.

Thus, the president's budget does not renew last year's offer -- hated by many fellow Democrats -- to save money by slowing increases of Social Security benefits. The White House says that plan was advanced only to entice congressional Republicans into deficit-reduction talks and was excluded this year after GOP leaders refused to reciprocate by offering tax increases.

Obama's budget starts what should be a relatively peaceful year on Washington's fiscal front lines. That is because land mines embedded in the budgetary landscape have been defused this time around after cliffhanger, partisan showdowns in recent years.

Instead of the annual fight over spending limits -- which last year helped produce a 16-day partial government shutdown -- Murray and Ryan's bipartisan compromise set an overall agency spending cap for the next two years. That has eliminated the need for lawmakers to do anything but provide the details in later spending bills, easing the threat of another federal closure.

Also missing this year is a need to extend the government's debt limit, which in the past has sparked battles that threatened economy-jarring federal defaults. Congress has given the Treasury Department authority to borrow money into next March, eliminating a must-pass legislative vehicle that either side might use to make demands.

___

Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Martin Crutsinger contributed to this report.






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Winston wrote:
"Boosting the economy"! Good one.
on March 4,2014 | 06:45AM
soundofreason wrote:
Great. Spending more money we don't have and putting THAT burden on Americans. The tax paying ones anyway.
on March 4,2014 | 06:53AM
soundofreason wrote:
Budget? Don't make me laugh.
on March 4,2014 | 06:54AM
Mythman wrote:
Imagine the economic and social mess we're in when we believe washington can lead the way to fixing the mess. thank the lord for tourism - Hawaii's salvation.
on March 4,2014 | 07:09AM
sluggah wrote:
Good comedy piece, SA.
on March 4,2014 | 07:12AM
WhyBother wrote:
Can't believe the Star Adertiser blindly re-publishes this junk. All fiction, no reality. The governement is not creating jobs, not reducing our debt and not enticing people to dig themselvs out of the hole they are in (knowing the government wont lift you up/out)
on March 4,2014 | 07:17AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Obama said "Even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone get ahead." The truth is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans ARE NOT working and do not have to work because they can depend and live quite comfortably on more and more government handouts from Obama.
on March 4,2014 | 07:30AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Don't forget foreign and military aid to countries that are not even our friends or allies.
on March 4,2014 | 07:52AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
We are witnessing the third act in the theater of the absurd where the social progressive lunatics are running the asylum. For anyone to believe borrowing yet more money to support more failed government "programs" is a rational way to boost an economy that is already overburdened by excessive debt and an economic killing field of toxic government waste is in need of a posterior lobotomy.
on March 4,2014 | 07:46AM
ShibaiDakine wrote:
Comment has been sent for approval.
on March 4,2014 | 07:47AM
Winston wrote:
Shiba, Your post are excellent. Hate to miss them. Try this: The SA filters include some pretty innocuous words, so copy before posting, then paste and edit out a few and try again.
on March 4,2014 | 09:00AM
Winston wrote:
Brave Sir Barak, sallying forth with a budget which will "boost the Economy", or so says the AP headline (meaning read no further, peasant, the King is boosting).

Meanwhile, in the grimy industrial section of government where non partisan number crunchers use math to make forecasts, the Congressional Budget Office has this to say about Sir Barack's budget, "In his budget request, Obama projects public debt as a percentage of gross domestic project falling to 69 percent by 2024, while the CBO has it rising to 79 percent — a difference of 10 percentage points, or roughly $2.7 trillion". (Washington Post).

Yes, Mr. Obama's fairy dust budget is off by a mere $2.7 trillion (that's with a T).

Never fear, the Congress will come to the rescue of fiscal sanity. Uh, oopsie. It appears the democrat Senate, while having agreed with the Republicans on a general spending target, has just decided NOT to produce an actual budget for 2015 (Reuters). Wow, that makes 5 years without a budget. Never fear, this just gives brave Sir Barack to freely spend your hard earned cash via executive order.


on March 4,2014 | 07:59AM
Winston wrote:
Brave Sir Barak, sallying forth with a budget which will "boost the Economy", or so says the AP headline (meaning read no further, peasant, the King is boosting).

Meanwhile, in the grimy industrial section of government where non partisan number crunchers use math to make forecasts, the Congressional Budget Office has this to say about Sir Barack's budget, "In his budget request, Obama projects public debt as a percentage of gross domestic project falling to 69 percent by 2024, while the CBO has it rising to 79 percent — a difference of 10 percentage points, or roughly $2.7 trillion". (Washington Post).

Yes, Mr. Obama's fairy dust budget is off by a mere $2.7 trillion (that's with a T).

Never fear, the Congress will come to the rescue of fiscal situation.

Uh, oopsie. It appears the democrat Senate, while having agreed with the Republicans on a general spending target, has just decided NOT to produce an actual budget for 2015 (Reuters). Wow, that makes 5 years without a budget, thus giving brave Sir Barack more latitude to freely spend your hard earned cash via executive order without the annoying interference of the citizenry.


on March 4,2014 | 08:02AM
9ronboz wrote:
Its been a nose dive since 2008
on March 4,2014 | 08:56AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Sane old story being told for the 6th time. I know hi is smart, but...
on March 4,2014 | 09:00AM
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