Obama to unveil election-tinged budget
Barack Obama unveils the last budget of his presidency Tuesday, a multitrillion-dollar plan that is dead-on-arrival in Congress but could shape the 2016 White House race. Legislatively, the future looks bleak for Obama’s 2017 fiscal year plan, which covers spending on everything from cyber security to cancer research.
Republicans who control Congress have already vowed to draft their own, “Rather,” in the words of House Budget committee chairman Tom Price, “than spend time on a proposal that, if anything like this administration’s previous budgets, will double down on the same failed policies.” Adding insult to White House injury, spending announcements that would have made waves in the first year of Obama’s administration are likely to quickly dissolve into saturation coverage of the New Hampshire presidential primary, which also takes place Tuesday. Still, the budget provides Obama with an opportunity to fashion national and Democratic party priorities.
The White House is promising a statement of intent that will be a “coherent, prioritized a budget that reflects the need to expand economic opportunity for everybody in United States,” said spokesman Josh Earnest. It will include plans to levy a $10-a-barrel tax on oil, a measure that would aggressively push Obama’s efforts to wean the United States off fossil fuels. A “computer science for all” program would give school $4 billion to teach a “new basic skill” and help modernize workforce skills. Looking further afield, the proposal will include $7.5 billion — a 50 percent increase from the previous year — to fund the campaign against the Islamic State group. That includes $1.8 billion to play for over 45,000 more GPS-guided smart bombs.
The budget would also invest more than $19 billion on cybersecurity, a 35 percent increase. – Fortuitous timing – The plan might have its biggest impact on the campaign trail, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are fighting a tougher-than-expected battle for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Sanders’s electrifying support in early voting states has exposed a battle for the soul of the party. The self-styled democratic socialist’s message has eclipsed Clinton’s more moderate and, she claims, realistic message. The pair virtually tied in Iowa and polls show Sanders leading Clinton in New Hampshire by double digits.
Obama is unlikely to withhold endorsement from either, but they will be cautious about getting on the wrong side of a potent campaigner who remains deeply popular among Democrats. When Obama earlier this year suggested he could not vote or campaign for anyone who does not support gun control, Sanders was quick to define his record on the issue. The budget also provides Obama an opportunity to draw sharp contrast with Republicans, as the November general election looms. “Clearly, Republicans are not interested in hearing about a budget that invests in the future and grows the wages of hard-working Americans,” charged House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.