The Budget, Doc

At 134 pages, it's a fairly quick read. Here are the highlights:

Big/Politically interesting items:

1. $4 billion for more Census funding, Mr. Boehner, on top of $1 billion in the stimulus package.

2. A $250 billion TARP "reserve fund;" actually, $750 billion, but the government expects to get most of it back.

3. Adds money to "build comprehensive, coordinated, high-quality early childhood "Zero to Five" education "systems."

4. Lots more money for energy, including billions to modernize the electric grid

5. Six billion more dollars for cancer research; 1 billion dollars to improve the FDA's safety and inspection regimes.

6. To offset people who've defaulted on their mortgage, the budget would pay for 1.3 million more government-subsidized rental properties.

7. A la the One Campaign, it puts the government "on a path" to double its foreign aid budget.

8. There's $5 billion for high-speed rail and $800 million for the next generaton of air traffic control.

9. It increases the EPA budget by 34% over FY 2009 levels.

10. It increases NASA's budget by $2.4 billion

11. It increases funding for the National Science Foundation by 16% over 2008 levels

 

Most overused term: "reflects the president's commitment"

Policy Costs. In 2010, something called the "baseline projection of current policy deficit" is said to exceed $1.5 trillion dollars, meaning, in essence, that changes to fiscal and monetary policy have cost the government an additional $1.5 trillion in total.  In 2011, new tax cuts for individuals are projected to decreases revenues by $12 billion, and by 2012, by $86 billion.  To sum them: Obama wants to create a "Making Work Pay" tax credit ($63 billion a year over over ten years), to expand the earned income tax credit, to expand the refundability of the child tax credit, expand saver's credits and provide an American Opportunity Tax Credit. Business tax cuts amount to much less -- just $3.5 billion in total by 2012.

Raising taxes.  The budget nicely call these "revenue changes" and loophole "closers." As has been reported, the budget assumes the permanent expiration of the Bush tax hikes for the higher income brackets, realizing about $85 billion by the end of his first term; it accounts for increases in premiums paid by Medicare recipients earning more than $170,000 per year, and reducing the itemized deduction rate for families with incomes over $250,000 per year. 

Obama also wants to

-- reinstate the Superfund tax by 2011

-- codify an IRS enforcement procedure that will save hundreds of millions of dollars

-- inplement unspecified "international enforcement, reform deferral, and other tax reform policies" to the tune of $210 billion over 10 years.

-- eliminate the Advanced Earned Income Tax Credit

Bottom line. In total, the budget projects the cost of all the new tax cuts, tax hikes, spending (including $15 billion per year on Green Energy) will exceed $660 billion over 10 years, with a slight majority of that cost realized in Obama's second term.

 

On health care, Obama provides eight board principles and will leave the details -- for now -- to Congress.

Note: the budget outline uses the word "universality," as in -- "aim for universality" of health care coverage. Obama wants a "clear path" to "cover all Americans." The budget outline does not say that Obama will refuse to sign health care reform that does not immediately cover everyone. Other principles include portability of coverage, guaranteed issue and the standard package of waste reduction, administrative reforms, wellness investment and patient care concerns.

The administration projects a steep decline in FY 2009 tax revenues; it expects to receive about $972 billion from income taxes and just 180 billion from corporate taxes. Other tax categories bring in roughly the same amount year-to-year, at least until 2012. In total, the U.S. projects that it will take in about $300 billion dollars less in taxes this year than it did last year.  The number stabilizes in 2010 and exceeds the 2008 level in 2011, owing largely to an increase in individual income taxes and a spike in payroll taxes as people get back to work. 

Targeted cuts: There don't appear to be too many. The ultra-deepwater oil ans gas research development program is to be cut -- a savings of about $2.5 billion over ten years. He'd cut abandoned mine land payments to states and repeal fees associated with the 2005 energy policy act. 

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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