Guest Author - Janine Queenin
President Obama released his fiscal year 2012 budget this week, with a focus on deficit reduction, government efficiency and investment in "education, innovation, and infrastructure". The $3.73 trillion dollar budget cuts discretionary, non-security spending, but does not tackle the monstrous entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security.
In his budget, the President lays out a ten-year deficit reduction plan that includes a two-year freeze on pay to federal workers and the elimination or reduction of many existing programs. Some of 200 programs targeted for elimination or reduction include, Women's Education Equity fund at the Department of Education (DOE), Adolescent Family Life Program at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and funding for Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities at HHS.
As in his State of the Union address, the President uses this "Sputnik moment" as a rallying cry to address the economic crisis and improve America's economic and educational standing in the world. The budget offers his plan to make the US more competitive and able to excel in a global marketplace.
The President proposes an extension of the American Opportunity Tax Cut, which is a tax credit of up to $2,500 for college tuition or expenses. The budget also recommends maintaining funding levels for Pell Grants. However, the budget eliminates Pell Grants for summer classes. The President recommends spending for infrastructure repair as way to create jobs, and "lay the foundation for future economic growth." He recommends a "$50 billion investment" for road and bridge repair, development of high-speed rail service, and a state of the art wireless network to serve the public and businesses. It is unclear how that investment will be funded.
Other highlights include:
· A $148 billion investment for research and development in the fields of biomedicine, cyber-security, nano-technology, and advanced manufacturing.
· Eliminates tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry and proposes programs and tax incentives to put one million electric cars on the road by 2015 and double the country's use of "clean energy" by 2035.
· No extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts to families or individuals making more the $250,000 per year. The tax cuts will still be in effect people making less than that amount.
· Expands the "Race to the Top" program to improve the country's education system.
According to C-SPAN.org, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has scheduled two hearings this week on the President's budget. The Senate Budget Committee will also begin holding hearings on the document. The release of the budget is the first step in the budget process that also includes, "40 congressional committees, 24 subcommittees, a variety of hearings and a number of floor votes in the House and Senate."
In response to the President's proposal, Republicans have said the plan does not go far enough to cut spending or reign in the federal deficit. Representative Paul Ryan states it is "a punt…not leadership...it's an abjuration of leadership…the budget went to the left…better to do nothing than pass this budget."
See his statement and a budget briefing by Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Session (R-AL) here:
Read the President's budget statement and see budget details at:
Watch OMB Director Jake Lew explain the President's budget: