Somewhere, after this budget was printed, a liberal angel got its wings.
It was “Budget Day” in Washington DC yesterday. It was also Groundhog Day. We came to the terrifying conclusion that the reason there is no change in American politics is because we keep reliving the same day year-after-year. As we feverishly try to find Andie Macdowell so she can fall in love with us, here is The Straight Dope on President Obama’s 2016 Fiscal Budget.
“Come at Me Bro!”
If we were to describe President Obama’s 2015 budget in just four words, it would be the phrase mentioned above. Nowhere in this year’s budget does the words “entitlement reform” or “compromise” present itself. This MASSIVE document was everything “2008 Presidential Candidate Obama” always wanted to accomplish that “President Obama” would just scoff at as being a fool’s errand. This budget wasn’t written by someone who was trying to bridge the gap between the GOP and his administration, it was written by that guy who casually answered “I won both of them” while he was addressing a Congress that is controlled by the GOP!
Depending how you look at politics, this budget is either:
- A) A rallying call for the progressives that have been stifled for far too long.
- B) A pre-emptive strike on the conservatives that make up the majority of Congress.
- C) A smart negotiating tactic that President Obama finally caught onto after six years of being in office.
We’re going with “C.” More on that in a bit.
So What’s in This Thing Anyway?
- Increases defense spending by $38 billion. A good portion of these were military programs that were cut by the sequester.
Create a six-year infrastructure $478 billion plan that would repair – and in many cases create – roads and bridges across the US.
The extending of unemployment insurance in which House Republicans killed last spring. For many unemployment benefits ended in 2013.
Wants to put $215 million in the practice of precision medicine. It’s a type of treatment that uses a patient’s genetic information to personalize their medications.
Wants to create a dedicated fund to “fight wildfires.” My guess is the money goes to putting this statue in every ranger station across America.
- Wants to expand early-childhood education to middle and lower-income families. Most of this would come in the form of tax cuts and more money to programs like Head Start.
Speaking of tax credits, the administration wants to extend and create additional tax credits for everyone that isn’t excessively wealthy (top 2%), a large bank, or a corporation.
Now if you do happen to be excessively wealthy, a large bank, or a corporation, the Obama Administration hasn’t forgotten about you! They essentially want you to flip-the-bill for everything above in the form of taxes. Which include a raise in capital gains tax, a new tax on inheritance, limit corporate tax deductions, new taxes on overseas profits for corporations, and a tax on big banks.
Overall the entire budget would be just under $4 trillion.
Focusing on the Positive: What the Republicans and Obama Administration Agree On
Let’s not mince words here. There is
any of President Obama’s plans make it onto the final spending bill of a Republican-led Congress.
It’s just not happening.
At the same time though, that doesn’t mean both parties don’t agree on any aspects of the budget. There are three major ideas both the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans agree on.
- Everyone Wants to Spend: For all the talk of lowering the deficit, both President Obama and the Republicans want to spend all that sweet, sweet federal cash! The Obama administration wants to increase federal spending in both military spending and infrastructure. Republicans are right on board with this idea as well. After cutting the deficit by a third in 2008, Washington looks to be in spending mode once again. Actually when it comes down to it, no one in Washington cares (or ever cared) about the deficit to begin with. Huh, I think there might be a future feature in this…
- Overhauling the Corporate Tax System: Both the Obama administration and the GOP think it’s time to overhaul the US corporate tax structure. Both sides very much want to eliminate tax breaks which will bring down rates and create a system that is equal to all corporations. The devil’s in the details however. Neither side can agree on which tax incentives to eliminate, especially when it comes to the tax on overseas profits. The Obama administration wants it, while the GOP is set against it.
- Infrastructure Reform: Many within Congress – both Republican and Democrat – have been looking to increase infrastructure spending for a while now. If you’re a congressman, the easiest way to gain some goodwill back home is through an infrastructure project. The Obama administration also agrees. Once again, how the money is allocated remains tricky.
- (Honorable Mention) Military Spending: It would be unfair of us to just completely forget about military spending. While they aren’t as close to a consensus as the other points presented, both parties are in agreement that an increase in military spending is needed. How big of an increase and what programs need to be cut (and saved) is the bigger question here.
The Art of Negotiating
Ok so here’s the STRAIGHTEST Dope on all this.
NONE OF THIS MATTERS!!!
Yup. The whole day that it took me to get through the entire budget, the makeshift spreadsheet I created crunching the numbers, the time it took you to read through this 1,000+ word article; at the end of the day, NONE OF IT MATTERS.
Alright, that’s not entirely true.
What President Obama’s 2016 Fiscal Budget does is create a “narrative” in what his administration thinks is important for that year. So what’s this year’s “narrative?”
The Obama administrative believes it’s time to put money back into the system.
Since 2009 the US government has been trying to cut spending to stabilize the economy after the 2008 recession. Now that deficits are only a third of what they were in 2008, the Obama administration looks to get back some of those government programs that were lost due to spending cuts.
So you can’t look at this budget as President Obama’s line in the sand, but more like his starting offer for a very long negotiation session.
For example, when you want to buy a car, you don’t go into the dealership demanding they give you the car at THIS exact price. You always start off with a low number and you negotiate from there, until both parties can find a price that they both can live with. It’s the same principle here. The Obama administration knows they won’t get everything – actually if anything – out of this budget, but never the less it’s a good starting point in which they can frame the debate.
Ok so I jumped the gun when I said “none of this matters.” What I should have said is “none of this (really) matters.” Negotiations like these are long and this budget is just the first offer on the table. So I guess what I’m trying to say is…
(Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov, Google Images)