The budget, more than two months late after the legal deadline of Feb. 4, was delayed by the year-end debate over taxes and spending, compounded by across-the-board spending cuts that took effect on March 1.
The spending blueprint outlining Obama’s priorities for the year beginning Oct. 1 follows House and Senate adoption of budget resolutions, nonbinding road maps that highlight differences between Democrats and Republicans over taxes, spending and the size of government.
Obama’s budget probably won’t change the political debate. Still, it gives the president a chance to align himself with a vision of modestly reduced U.S. deficits through higher taxes on top earners and ending special tax breaks.
The budget release in the morning will be followed by a private dinner that evening with the president and about a dozen Senate Republicans, part of the White House effort to court rivals over spending, taxes and the deficit. Scheduling a dinner on the same day of Obama’s budget release was “just a happy confluence of events,” Earnest said today.
Many of the proposals contained in last year’s $3.8 trillion administration budget, never adopted by Congress, are likely to be recycled. With automatic budget cuts in place, the White House may be forced to look for savings to pay for increases in Obama’s priorities, such as education, clean-energy research and an initial $50 billion in new spending on public works such as improved roads and bridges.
Other proposals, as outlined in his State of the Union message, wouldn’t need new federal funding. That includes Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage to $9 from $7.25 an hour, creating new manufacturing “hubs,” overhauling immigration laws and streamlining mortgage rules.
Obama’s budget proposals may seek to trim spending on social programs, cuts opposed by key Democratic lawmakers and liberal constituencies.
Obama has proposed a less-generous measure of inflation, called the chained Consumer Price Index, that would have the effect of limiting Social Security benefit increases.
The president also has proposed, in budget talks with Congress, to cut Medicare spending by $140 billion over a decade by squeezing more savings from drug companies, hospitals and other providers. Another proposal is to charge wealthy seniors about $35 billion more over a decade for their Medicare coverage.
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