President Barack Obama on Monday argued the country’s economic security and national security are intertwined while unveiling his $4 trillion budget at the Department of Homeland Security.
The White House has framed the proposal as an aid package to the middle class that would provide tax relief to lower-income earners by seeking more revenue from wealthy Americans and corporations. But his message to Congressional Republicans, who are unlikely to approve the budget, is that the country is safest when all Americans are enjoying economic success.
“Our economy flourishes when our country is safe and secure,” he said.
Republicans in Congress passed a spending measure last year that funded most of government through September. But Homeland Security received funding only through February because of GOP objections to the president’s executive actions on immigration.
“Don’t jeopardize our national security over this disagreement,” Obama said.
Republicans were quick to voice opposition to the proposal on Monday.
“Today President Obama laid out a plan for more taxes, more spending, and more of the Washington gridlock that has failed middle-class families,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “It may be Groundhog Day, but the American people can't afford a repeat of the same old top-down policies of the past.”
Here's a deeper look at some of the siginificant issues surrounding this year's White House budget:
What it does for the middle class
The president’s budget places specific emphasis on working families by cutting taxes for parents paying for child care, increasing affordable health care for children, and encouraging states to expand universal preschool.
The budget also includes a $500 “second earner” tax credit for families with two working spouses and calls on states to establish paid sick leave.
College affordability is another major component in the president’s budget. Included in the proposal is the president’s ambitious plan to provide two years of free community college to students who qualify. The proposal also expands high education tax credits and requests $200 million for funding to expand job training programs.
What it does for highways and transit systems
The president’s budget includes an ambitious plan to modernize the country’s aging infrastructure and build out public transportation in major metropolitan areas and beyond. Obama is asking for $478 billion in highway and transit spending, with tax incentives and a National Infrastructure Bank to help encourage investments and develop public and private partnerships.
Funding will come from partially from taxing U.S. companies overseas profits, along with already existing gasoline taxes and transportation fees.
How does it address sequestration?
Obama has pledged to end the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, calling them “mindless austerity” in a speech Monday. “I'm not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward,” Obama said. “It would be bad for our security and bad for our growth.”
His proposal increases the Pentagon’s budget by $38 billion.
Does it add to the deficit and debt?
The White House predicts the budget will result in a $474 billion deficit, which would equal about 2.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. It’s a level consist with most deficits over the past half century. In the ten year plan the budget rises each year before hitting $687 billion in 2025. Administration officials say that spending cuts and revenue increases will leave the deficit manageable. Obama is calling for increased taxes on capital gains, inheritances, limiting corporate tax deductions and creating a new tax on “too big to fail” banks.
The plan would add almost $6 trillion in debt, but an expanding economy will help keep that amount in check as well, according to the White House.
Will it pass?
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have panned the proposal. They could propose some compromise with the president’s version, but the two sides seem too far apart for that to be likely. The most plausible scenario is Congress passes another stopgap funding measure that would keep government running through the 2016 presidential race.