Obama Sends Congress $3.8 Trillion Spending Plan For 2014 Seeking Elusive Grand BargainBy Associated Press April 10
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is sending Congress a $3.8 trillion spending blueprint that seeks to achieve an elusive "grand bargain" to tame runaway deficits by raising taxes further on the wealthy and trimming popular benefit programs such as Social Security. The president's proposal being unveiled Wednesday includes an additional $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade, bringing total deficit savings to $4.3 trillion, based on the administration's calculations. It projects that the deficit for the 2014 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, would fall to $744 billion. That would be the lowest gap between spending and revenue since 2008. But instead of moving Congress nearer a grand bargain, Obama's proposals so far have managed to anger both Republicans, who are upset by higher taxes, and Democrats upset with cuts to Social Security benefits. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., rejected the administration's argument that the refusal of Republicans to consider further tax increases represented inflexibility. "We Republicans have already done things to move to the middle, to find common ground," Ryan said on MSNBC. "We really believe if we set the stage right, we can get fundamental tax reform." The president's spending and tax plan is two months late. The administration blames the delay on the lengthy "fiscal cliff" negotiations at the end of December and then fights over the March 1 automatic spending cuts. The president's plan tracks an offer he made to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, during December's budget negotiations, which Boehner ended up walking away from because of his opposition to higher taxes on the wealthy. The Obama budget proposal will join competing budget outlines already approved by the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-run Senate. Obama's plan is not all about budget cuts. It also includes an additional $50 billion to fund infrastructure investments, including $40 billion in a "Fix It First" effort to provide immediate investments to repair highways, bridges, transit systems and airports nationwide. Obama's budget would also provide $1 billion to launch a network of 15 manufacturing innovation institutes across the country, and it earmarks funding to support high-speed rail projects. The president also is proposing establishment of program to offer preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, with the money to support the effort coming from increased taxes on tobacco products. The administration said its proposals to increase spending would not increase the deficit but rather are paid for either by increasing taxes or making deeper cuts to other programs. Among the proposed cuts, the administration wants to trim defense spending by an additional $100 billion and domestic programs by an extra $100 billion over the next decade. The budget proposes cutting $400 billion from Medicare and other health care programs over a decade. The cuts would come in a variety of ways, including negotiating better prescription drug prices and asking wealthy seniors to pay more. It would obtain an additional $200 billion in savings by scaling back farm subsidies and trimming federal retiree programs. The most sweeping proposal in Obama's budget is a switch in the way the government calculates the annual cost-of-living adjustments for the millions of recipients of Social Security and other government benefit programs. The current method of measuring increases in the consumer price index would be modified to track a process known as chained CPI. The new method takes into account changes that occur when people substitute goods rising in price with less expensive products. It results in slightly lower annual reading for inflation. The switch in the inflation formula would cut spending on government benefit programs by $130 billion over 10 years, although the administration said it planned to protect the most vulnerable, including the very elderly. The change would also raise about $100 billion in higher taxes because the current CPI formula is used to adjust tax brackets each year. A lower inflation measure would mean more money taxed at higher rates. In the tax area, Obama would raise an additional $580 billion by restricting deductions for the top 2 percent of family incomes. The budget would also implement the "Buffett Rule" requiring that households with incomes of more than $1 million pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. Charitable giving would be excluded. Congress and the administration have already secured $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years through budget reductions and with the end-of-year tax increase on the rich. Obama's plan would bring that total to $4.3 trillion over 10 years. It is unlikely that Congress will get down to serious budget negotiations until this summer, when the government once again will be confronted with the need to raise the government's borrowing limit or face the prospect of a first-ever default on U.S. debt. As part of the administration's effort to win over Republicans, Obama will have a private dinner at the White House with about a dozen GOP senators Wednesday night. The budget is expected to be a primary topic, along with proposed legislation dealing with gun control and immigration. Early indications are that the budget negotiations will be intense. Republicans have been adamant in their rejection of higher taxes, arguing that the $600 billion increase on top earners that was part of the late December agreement to prevent the government from going over the "fiscal cliff" were all the new revenue they will tolerate. The administration maintains that Obama's proposal is balanced with the proper mix of spending cuts and tax increases. Obama has presided over four straight years of annual deficits totaling more than $1 trillion, reflecting in part the lost revenue during a deep recession and the government's efforts to get the economy going again and stabilize the financial system. The Obama budget's $1.8 trillion in new deficit cuts would take the place of the automatic $1.2 trillion in reductions required by a 2011 budget deal. That provision triggered $85 billion in automatic cuts for the current budget year, and those reductions, known as a "sequester," would not be affected by Obama's new budget. The budget plan already passed by the GOP-controlled House would cut deficits by a total $4.6 trillion over 10 years on top of the $1.2 trillion called for in the 2011 deal. The budget outline approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate tracks more closely to the Obama proposal, although it does not include changes to the cost-of-living formula for Social Security. ___ Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor, Jim Kuhnhenn and Donna Cassata contributed to this report. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/health_care/obama-sending-congress-budget-seeking-elusive-grand-bargain-on-taxes-and-spending/2013/04/10/00f7030a-a1ac-11e2-bd52-614156372695_story.htmlhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/health_care/obama-sending-congress-budget-seeking-elusive-grand-bargain-on-taxes-and-spending/2013/04/10/00f7030a-a1ac-11e2-bd52-614156372695_story.html
Obama Unveils Budget Meant to Draw G.O.P to the Table By Jackie Calmes New York Times April 10, 2013
WASHINGTON - In his fifth annual budget proposal to Congress on Wednesday, President Obama once again has put forward a fiscal mix of investments in infrastructure, education and research with further deficit reduction through tax increases and spending cuts. But for the first time he has included changes to Medicare and Social Security intended to entice Republicans back to the bargaining table.
The main new element of the budget is his proposal, offered previously in private negotiations with Speaker John A. Boehner, for a new cost-of-living formula that would reduce future Social Security benefits. On the spending side, Mr. Obama wants to help states make prekindergarten available universally, paid for by higher taxes on tobacco products.
For fiscal year 2014, which begins Oct. 1, the federal deficit would be $744 billion, according to administration officials. That would be equal to about 4.4 percent of the gross domestic product, down from a high of about 10 percent at the height of the recession. By decade's end, the annual deficit would be 1.7 percent, officials said, though deficits would increase thereafter as aging baby boomers drive up costs for federal benefit programs.
Though Republican leaders in Congress spurned Mr. Obama's intended overture after early reports late last week<http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/us/social-programs-face-cutback-in-obama-budget.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>, rejecting further tax increases on the wealthy and calling the spending cuts too small, Mr. Obama is hoping that rank-and-file Republican senators can be persuaded to join with him and Senate Democrats in a compromise. He will dine with a dozen Senate Republicans on Wednesday night.
Mr. Obama incorporated the compromise offers on Social Security and Medicare into his annual budget for the first time - over vehement objections from many Democrats - in part after earlier private discussions with individual Republican senators about what he could do to assure them of his seriousness about reaching a long-term deal to stabilize the national debt.
The 10-year budget plan would cut spending by about $1.2 billion over that time to replace the indiscriminate across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, that took effect March 1 when Mr. Obama and Republican leaders failed to agree on alternative deficit-reduction measures.
Mr. Obama would reduce deficits more than $600 billion further in that time by additional tax increases on the wealthy and some corporations - roughly the same amount of tax increases that took effect on Jan. 1 when he and Congress agreed to end the Bush tax cuts on high incomes.
It is largely because of delays forced by those year-end negotiations, the administration has said, that Mr. Obama's budget is reaching Capitol Hill two months late and after both the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate have approved budget blueprints of their own. But those plans will be nearly impossible for the two chambers of Congress to reconcile, stoking White House hopes that Mr. Obama's budget can provide an alternative path to a compromise.
By the administration's calculation, the total $1.8 trillion in 1 savings over 10 years, together with more than $2.5 trillion in spending cuts agreed to since mid-2011, would bring the tally for deficit reduction to more than $4.3 trillion. That is about the 10-year goal that both parties have sought, but Republican leaders are resolved to oppose new tax increases and their House plan calls for much deeper reductions in Medicare and in most other federal programs except the military.
"The question is, are Republicans going to be willing to come to us to do the serious things that they say are so important in terms of reducing our deficit," said a senior administration official, who declined to be identified discussing the budget in advance of its release.
"If they refuse to include revenues in any deal, then there will be no deal," the official said. "It's that simple. Basically, what's not going to happen is a deficit-reduction approach that does it all on the backs of the middle class and seniors."
Under any of the plans, the federal budget for the next fiscal year would total about $3.7 trillion. But only just over $1 trillion of that is so-called discretionary spending for domestic and military programs that the president and Congress set annually. Most of the rest is spending for the entitlement programs - chiefly Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - that automatically flow to beneficiaries unless the White House and Congress change them by law.
Mr. Obama would raise an estimated $580 billion in new revenue over a decade mainly through two ways. For the fifth time he is proposing that affluent taxpayers in higher tax brackets must limit their deductions to the 28 percent rate; while Congress has annually ignored that idea, there are signs of growing support as lawmakers seek new ways to reduce deficits. The second change would impose his so-called Buffett Rule, requiring that people with annual taxable income above $1 million pay at least 30 percent in income taxes.