GOP pans Obama's $3.9T budget as campaign warm-up

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 3:31 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014
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"The longer we wait, the more painful the changes will be," said Maya MacGuineas, a leader of the bipartisan Fix the Debt Campaign. "We can't let election-year malaise be an excuse for inaction on such an important issue."

"Stabilizing the debt over the long term is a key part of any sound fiscal policy and viable economic strategy for America," said Michael A. Peterson, president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

In a nod to controlling the budget, Obama's fiscal plan proposes to live within a compromise spending limit for agencies reached in December between Ryan and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wis.

But on top of that, Obama proposed $55 billion in additional spending priorities, divided evenly between defense and domestic programs. These include repairs for bases and more weapons purchases for the military, plus domestic programs like upgrading national parks and increasing grants to schools that train students for jobs.

Obama would pay for the entire add-on by limiting tax breaks for retirement benefits of the wealthy, cutting some farm subsidies and boosting airline passenger fees — none of which have realistic chances of enactment this year.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said Obama's budget would finance "badly needed investments in education and training, breakthrough scientific research, and advanced manufacturing. He would also further boost our military readiness. These investments to power our economy and reinforce our security are fully paid for by closing tax loopholes for hedge fund owners, well-heeled lobbyists, and other special interests."

Without that extra money, Pentagon spending would be $496 billion in 2015, the same as this year. The Pentagon plans to shrink the Army from 490,000 active-duty soldiers to as few as 440,000 over the coming five years, the smallest since just before World War II, reduce ship purchases and take other steps that defense hawks in Congress are unhappy with — especially since Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Obama's budget also calls for $302 billion for roads, mass transit and railroads over the next four years; doubles to $1,000 the maximum earned income tax credit for childless low-income workers; and spends $66 billion over the next decade for preschool programs for all 4-year-olds.

Tobacco taxes would rise an additional 94 cents per pack, up from their current $1.01. A corporate tax overhaul would quickly yield $150 billion as loopholes were tightened on U.S. companies doing business abroad, and other companies and financial institutions would face $56 billion over 10 years from a new fee.

None of those proposals are going anywhere quickly on Capitol Hill.

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Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.