Thank You, Obama, For A Great Budget

Thank you, Obama, for sending Congress a budget that could put our
nation back on a path to prosperity for all Americans.
I understand that this budget is a hypothetical, but it is carefully
crafted and shows in great detail how our American government could address
concerns in new ways that would better meet the needs of working people, and
the entire American middle class, in the 21st century, when
globalization has impacted so heavily on our lives.
It appears that this budget has also taken pains to place no undue
burdens on the wealthy, on corporations, or on small business.
This is a budget that plans for a productive society for every one of
us.
I also understand that this seemingly very balanced budget will hit
the wall of the Republican extremists who control the party at this moment, of
the Koch Brothers and other wealthy donors who totally want to retain the
top-down control their money buys them, and the wall of the Grover
Norquist  group which is blocking any
change in the tax code until Republicans regain power and can reform the code
as they see fit.
These obstacles are insurmountable unless magic happens and I am not
much of a believer in magic these days, at least not in the sphere of
governance.
Thank you anyway, Obama,
because you came up with an excellent budget and history will bear that out. It
is a great solace just to have it all laid out there, in black and white, for
all to see. This budget shows what America might have been if the naysayers,
the haters, the reactionaries, had not been in charge.
Here’s a copy of the budget that Obama has proposed for the year 2016.
I have gotten rid of the small details and what I give you here is just an
outline. I did leave in the details of how Obama plans to pay for this, because
bean counters seem to be everywhere these days and we do have big debts to
people we should not owe money to.
We used to be a nation of risk-takers and perhaps a bit of risk taking
is called for now.
The link below will take you to the unaltered document that I used to
make this outline. None of the words in the document are mine.
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Overview
WHAT THE PRESIDENT’S BUDGET DOES:
MIDDLE CLASS ECONOMICS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
In last month’s State of the Union, the
President laid out his vision for middle class economics: restoring the link
between hard work and opportunity, and ensuring that every American has the
chance to share in the benefits of economic growth. To achieve this, the Budget
invests in helping working families make their paychecks go further, preparing
hardworking Americans to earn higher wages, and creating the infrastructure
that allows businesses to thrive and create good, high-paying jobs.
Helping Middle-Class Families Get Ahead
Middle class economics means ensuring that all
Americans have the opportunity to succeed in our global economy and all working
families can afford the cornerstones of economic security: child care, college,
health care, a home, and retirement. The Budget supports working families by
reforming the tax code to help middle-class families get ahead, tripling the
child care tax credit, expanding child care assistance, encouraging state paid
leave initiatives, ensuring access to quality, affordable health care, making
two years of community college tuition-free for responsible students,
bolstering job training so it leads to careers, expanding access to child care
and early education, supporting and rewarding work, and helping families save
for retirement.
Improving Access to High-Quality Child Care and Early Education
Expands
access to quality, affordable child care. 
Cuts
taxes for families paying for child care with a credit of up to $3,000 per
child. 
Increases
the duration of Head Start programs and invests in high quality infant and
toddler care. 
Supports
universal preschool. 
Lays the groundwork
for Preschool for All.
 
Invests in voluntary,
evidence-based home visiting.
Improving Opportunity for All Students
Increases funding for
special education and efforts to assist English language learners. 
Provides broad support
for educators at every phase of their careers.
 
Invests more than $3
billion on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
 
Reforming the Tax Code
to Reward and Support Work
 
Encouraging State Paid Leave
Ensuring Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care 
Helping All Workers Save for Retirement 
Partnering With Communities to Expand Opportunity 
Supporting Innovative Projects to Improve Upward Mobility 
Helping Americans Upgrade Their Skills
America’s education system led the world in
the 20th Century, when we sent generations to college and cultivated the most
educated workforce in the world, supporting an unparalleled period of economic
growth and rising middle-class incomes. Since then, other countries have
followed our lead to develop globally competitive education systems. As our
economy changes, we need to ensure that Americans are prepared with the skills
and knowledge necessary to compete in the 21st Century economy. The
Administration invests in affordable post-secondary education and builds on the
bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) with investments
that connect workers with good jobs and prepare them with skills employers
need.
Making a High-Quality College Education More Affordable
Provides Tuition-Free
Community College for Responsible Students. 
 Ensures that Pell Grants Keep Pace with
Inflation. 
 Keeps Student Loans Manageable. 
Simplifies and Expands
Education Tax Benefits. 
Drives Performance and
Innovation in Higher Education
Expanding Technical Training Programs for Middle Class Jobs
Creating Pathways to High-Growth Jobs
Expanding Apprenticeships and Employer-Validated Credentials 
Helping Americans Launch and Sustain Their Own Businesses
Creating a 21st Century
Economy
Creating jobs that pay
good wages is the best way to grow our economy and the middle class. To compete
in the 21st Century
economy and make America a magnet for job creation and opportunity, we need to
invest in American innovation, strengthening our manufacturing base, keeping
our Nation at the forefront of technological advancement, and leading in the
development of clean energy alternatives and the promotion of energy efficiency
while moving toward energy security through safe and responsible domestic
energy production. Because a 21st Century economy requires 21st Century infrastructure, the Budget proposes to
modernize our ports and build stronger bridges, better roads, faster trains,
and better broadband, creating jobs for thousands of construction workers and
engineers, strengthening our communities, and making it easier to do business.
Expanding the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes 
Investing in Home Grown Products and Ideas
Rebuilding Our Infrastructure with Transition Revenue from
Business Tax Reform
Boosting Private Investment through a Rebuild America
Partnership
Cutting Red Tape in the Infrastructure Permitting Process 
Investing in Innovative Research and Development
Investing in Homegrown Clean Energy
Keeping Americans Safe at Home and Abroad
Economic growth and opportunity can only be
achieved if America is safe and secure. The Budget provides $561 billion in
base discretionary funding for national defense—$38 billion above sequestration
levels—and $58 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations to provide the
resources needed to sustain the President’s national security strategy,
protecting the country’s security and well-being both at home and abroad.
Degrading and Defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL)
 
Countering Russian Pressure and Aggressive Action Together with
our European
Promoting Prosperity, Security and Good Governance in Central
America
Protecting our Nation Against Cyber-Attacks
Confronting the Threat Posed by Infectious Diseases
Combatting Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse
Honoring Our Commitment to Veterans
Creating a Government for the Future
The President is committed to creating a
Government that makes a significant, tangible, and positive difference in the
economy and the lives of the American people, and to driving lasting change in
how Government works. This Administration has launched successful efforts to
eliminate wasteful IT spending, reduce the Federal real property footprint,
modernize and improve citizen-facing services, and open tens of thousands of
Federal data sets to spur innovation in the private sector.
Supporting the President’s Management Agenda
Supporting Digital Service Delivery for Citizens 
Building Evidence and Encouraging Innovation 
Reforming the Government to Win in the Global Economy
.
Achieving Fiscal Sustainability and Promoting
Sustainable Growth
This year’s Budget supports the President’s
ambitious vision for supporting growth and opportunity, and does so while
meeting a key test of fiscal stability: reducing deficits to below 3 percent of
GDP, stabilizing debt as a share of the economy, and putting it on a declining
path. It achieves these goals by replacing mindless austerity with smart
reforms, paying for all new investments, and obtaining $1.8 trillion in deficit
reduction primarily from health, tax, and immigration reforms.
Reversing Mindless Austerity
While many of the investments described above
are made possible by reversing sequestration, the contrast between what can be
achieved under sequestration versus under the President’s Budget is
particularly stark in a few key areas:
·        
Research and Development. Under 2016 sequestration levels, assuming roughly current
funding patterns, research funding adjusted for inflation would reach its
lowest levels since 2002 – other than when sequestration was in full effect in
2013. By comparison, the President’s Budget would increase R&D funding by
nearly 6 percent over 2015, including investments in Precision Medicine, the
Brain Initiative, and other areas.
·        
Early Learning. The last time sequestration took full effect in 2013, more than
57,000 children lost access to Head Start and Early Head Start, with enrollment
falling to the lowest level since 2001. Researchers have established that
supporting children during this critical stage yields benefits that far
outweigh the costs of the investment. The President’s Budget makes major
investments in early learning (described above), including, for example, making
sure children can be served in full-day, full-year Head Start programs that
research shows lead to better outcomes for kids.
·        
National Security. The Joint Chiefs have made clear that a return to
sequestration-level cuts would significantly reduce the military’s ability to
fully implement the President’s defense strategy. The military would be
unbalanced and eventually too small and insufficiently modern to meet the needs
of our strategy, leading to greater risk of longer wars with higher casualties
for the United States and our allies and partners. In contrast, the Budget
makes the investments needed to protect the Nation’s security and well-being
both at home and abroad.
Paying for all new investments – Every investment in the Budget – including the
new and expanded tax credits for middle-class and working families, and
mandatory investments in community college and preschool – is more than fully
paid for through spending or tax reforms. In particular, the Budget pays for
many of its investments in helping middle class families get ahead through
three important reforms to the tax system. First, it would eliminate what may
be the largest single loophole in the tax code – a provision known as
“stepped-up basis” that lets wealthy households avoid taxes on hundreds of
billions in capital gains taxes each year. Second, it would raise the top
capital gains and dividend rate for high-income households to 28 percent, the
rate under President Reagan. Third, it reforms financial sector taxation to
make it more costly for large, highly-leveraged financial firms to finance their
activities with excessive borrowing, reducing risks to the broader economy.
Reducing Deficits through Health, Tax, and Immigration Reform – While the Budget’s new investments are paid
for with smart reforms across a range of programs, as well as commonsense tax
loophole closers, the $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in the Budget is
achieved primarily by focusing on the key drivers of our Budget challenges:
health care cost growth and inadequate revenue levels in the face of an aging
population. Specifically, the Budget includes:
·        
$400 Billion in Health Savings. Over the last few years, we’ve seen
historically slow rates of health care cost growth, which are already yielding
fiscal dividends. The Budget includes $400 billion in health savings that build
on the Affordable Care Act to help maintain slower cost growth while improving
health care quality – complementing the Administration’s other efforts on
delivery system reform. Notably, the Budget’s health savings grow over time –
raising about $1 trillion in the second decade, and extending the Medicare
Hospital Insurance trust fund solvency by approximately 5 years.
·        
$640 Billion in Net Deficit Reduction from Tax Reforms. The Budget raises about $640 billion in net
revenue for deficit reduction from curbing high-income tax expenditures. These
savings come from limiting tax benefits that are not efficient in achieving
social goals, raising revenue without raising tax rates.
·        
$160 Billion in Savings
from Immigration Reform.
 This year’s Budget
again reflects the President’s support for commonsense, comprehensive
immigration reform along the lines of the bipartisan Senate-passed bill. In
part because it helps balance out an aging population, immigration reform helps
both the Budget – by almost $1 trillion over two decades – and the Social
Security Trust Fund, closing about 8 percent of the Trust Fund shortfall and
moving insolvency out two years. It also strengthens the economy by boosting
GDP growth, reducing the deficit, raising average wages for U.S.-born and immigrant
workers, increasing the size of the labor force, and raising productivity.
Through these policies, the President’s Budget
brings annual deficits well below the 40-year historical average of 3.2 percent
of GDP during every year of the budget window. A key test of fiscal
sustainability is whether debt is stable or declining as a share of the
economy, resulting in interest payments that consume a stable or falling share
of the Nation’s resources over time. The Budget meets that test, showing that investments
in growth and opportunity are compatible with also putting the Nation’s
finances on a strong and sustainable path.
###
Here are some comments from the New York Times about Obama’s budget:
The core of the president’s 2016 budget is a plan to boost
the middle class by helping low- and middle-income earners pay for education,
child care, job training and other needs, and by vastly expanding investment in
the nation’s infrastructure. These initiatives would be paid for, in the main,
by nearly $1 trillion in tax increases that would fall on the wealthy and large
financial institutions over the next decade…
The new taxes, however, are also carefully crafted to
spur economic growth more broadly. A proposed higher rate on capital gains, for
example, would discourage rampant and inefficient tax sheltering, while
encouraging investors to deploy the capital in ways that are more economically
productive. Ditto the financial tax that is structured to discourage
speculative activities at banks that endanger the economy, as well as
taxpayers…
The President Obama’s budget also presents a
reasonable plan for relieving the near-term damage from automatic budget cuts,
also known as sequestration. Much like a bipartisan plan that reduced the harm
of sequestration in 2014 and 2015, the proposed budget would raise nonmilitary
discretionary spending over the capped level by $37 billion while offering a
dollar-for-dollar increase in military spending…
Even with those increases, discretionary spending
would fall by 2019 to its lowest level on record as a share of the economy, in
data going back to 1962 — too low to meet the needs of a large economy and a
growing population. Still, easing the sequester as Mr. Obama proposes would
help shift the national discussion to how, when and how much government should
spend, rather than how much it should retreat and retrench from its duties…
Contrary to the Republican charge that the budget is
fiscally irresponsible, it addresses, albeit indirectly, longer-term problems
like the financing shortfall in Social Security — just not in ways that
Republicans care to acknowledge. For example, the budget assumes passage of
comprehensive immigration reform, which would boost the economy by adding
millions of newly legalized workers. Immigration and economic growth are
essential to improving the financial health of the Social Security system.
By Nancy Brisson

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