Monday, February 01, 2010

The Budget is Coming! The Budget is Coming!

Today the Obama Administration is releasing its proposed Federal budget for FY2011, which begins October 1, 2010. Highlights include a "job creation" proposal that envisions small business tax cuts and new infrastructure investments designed to generate jobs. According to the release, the budget cuts over 100 programs, while also proposing a series of funding increases.

Now, before you get all enthusiastic about specific increases (or freaked out about specific cuts), remember that this is the first step in a very long process. The President makes his proposals -- and those proposals certainly reflect what he thinks government should focus on -- but Congress has to develop the spending and tax packages. Congress may decide to do very little of what the President suggests, or everything, or something in between.

The whole process is outlined in an interesting interactive chart on the Washington Post website. Yes, I'm playing fast and loose with the word "interesting." Be sure to have a strong cup of coffee before delving in to the details of the process.

If you're just interested in the general overview, highlights of the budget proposal include:

  • a freeze on discretionary spending and $20 billion in cuts to various programs
  • an increase in funding at the Department of Education by $2.9 billion or 6.2 percent.
  • a new $4 billion dollar National Infrastructure Innovation & Finance Fund to focus on infrastructure investments of national and regional significance
  • more than $6 billion in funding for clean energy technologies
  • the elimination of existing fossil fuel subsidies
  • an increase of $3.7 billion, or 6.4 percent, for civilian research and development
  • allowing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to expire only for those making more than $250,000 a year and reducing the rate at which these same households write-off itemized deductions
  • ending subsidies for oil, gas, and coal companies and closing other loopholes
  • a responsibility fee on the largest banks
  • a bipartisan, fiscal commission to look at a range of proposals and put forward a bipartisan recommendation to balance the budget excluding interest payments on the debt by 2015
Remember, the best way to preserve programs you're most interested in (or eliminate those you think are wasteful) is through advocacy. Frankly, the government is going to have no idea what is most helpful or harmful unless you share your views. So get out there and get advocating!

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