How is Washington receiving Obama's final budget proposal?
A partisan Congress seems primed to reject the final budget proposal of his administration.
President Obama submitted the final federal budget proposal of his presidency to Congress on Tuesday in a spending plan totaling $4.1 trillion.
Mr. Obama’s eighth such proposal from the White House will likely be largely discounted by the Republican-controlled Congress. But the budgetary roadmap highlights what Obama and fellow Democrats hope to see from the government in fiscal year 2017, which begins in October.
The proposal runs $196 billion more than did 2016’s, while projecting a deficit of $503 billion – $113 billion less than last year.
“My budget makes critical investments while adhering to the bipartisan budget agreement I signed into law last fall, and it lifts sequestration in future years so that we continue to invest in our economic future and our national security,” Obama said Tuesday in a message addressed to Congress.
He went on to highlight the innovation, opportunity, and security he says the budget would provide for, as a “roadmap to a future that embodies America’s values and aspirations.”
Obama's budget outlines his “final vision of how he lays out the fiscal future for the country,” said Joel Friedman, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ vice president for federal fiscal policy, to Reuters.
His staff hold no illusions about its fate. “We understand that not everything is going to actually get taken up and passed this year, but we’re sort of laying the groundwork and putting out solutions that are sort of long term,” an unnamed Obama administration official told The New York Times.
“In the midst of what people are rightly noting is our last year, this is continuing the theme of turning the idea of a lame duck on its head," the staffer continued, saying that the president is "still totally focused on leaving it all on the field, and putting out new ideas.”
“I don't think anyone expects it to be enacted this year,” Mr. Friedman agreed. “Republicans aren't going to embrace it, but that doesn't mean it's not going to be a useful document.”
Indeed, Republican legislators expressed their disinterest with the plan even before its release. The chairs of both the House and Senate budget committees announced Thursday that they would not hold a hearing with the Office of Management and Budget’s director Shaun Donovan – a move Congress hasn’t made in decades.
The Republican chairs reiterated their disapproval with the budget after it was sent out Tuesday.
“Like every one of his previous budgets, President Obama’s newest plan never balances. Ever. Like all of his previous proposals, it increases spending by trillions of dollars above what we already cannot afford and takes more money out of the pockets of hardworking taxpayers with no plan to address the key drivers of our debt,” House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price said in a statement that criticized Obama’s “defense of a broken status quo.”
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi said in a Tuesday release that “This budget joins [Obama’s] others by placing America on a fiscal path that is unsustainable and threatens our long-term economic growth.”
Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan agreed.
“President Obama will leave office having never proposed a budget that balances – ever,” Ryan said, per the Associated Press. “This isn't even a budget so much as it is a progressive manual for growing the federal government at the expense of hardworking Americans.”
Ryan went on to say that his side would produce a balanced budget within the coming weeks, adding that “Americans deserve better.”
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi responded with equally strong words: “Republicans’ insulting decision to prevent the Director of OMB from presenting the President’s budget before the House and Senate Budget Committees belies the corrosive radicalism that has gripped Congressional Republicans. The Republican Chairmen’s contemptuous attitude is unworthy of the U.S. Congress and the American people."
In his remarks, Obama reiterated his commitment to coalition-building: "Just as it took the collective efforts of the American people to rise from the recession and rebuild an even stronger economy, so will it take all of us working together to meet the challenges that lie ahead," he said. "It will not be easy. But I have never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today."