By Jolie Lee and the Associated Press
Federal News Radio
The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget, released Monday, proposes a five-year freeze for “all discretionary spending outside of security,” as well as more than 200 terminations and reductions of government programs.
Highlights of some changes to discretionary funding:
The discretionary spending represents an increase of $22 billion above the 2010 appropriation. This reflects continued investment in national security priorities such as cybersecurity, satellites and nuclear security. Although not subject to the President’s freeze on non-security discretionary spending, DoD is undertaking a series of management efficiency and acquisition reforms that will produce a net of $78 billion in savings over the years 2012 through 2016 compared to the previous DoD topline funding levels. Cost-cutting measures include the consolidation of several Air Force operation centers, reduced Army construction costs and the Navy’s use of multi-year procurement strategies.
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The discretionary spending increases less than 1 percent above the 2010 enacted level. Increases were made in core homeland security functions such as border security and Coast Guard assets. Savings are achieved by the elimination of stove-piped and duplicative State and local grant programs, administrative costs, and professional contract services.
More than 2.2 million service members have deployed for war since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The budget proposal would provide $208 million in aid to caregivers who are family members of the severely wounded from the recent wars. It’s part of a law signed last year by President Barack Obama. It would invest $183 million to help jumpstart VA’s effort to reduce its massive claims backlog that’s left veterans waiting months or years for a benefit check by starting to implement a paperless claims system. It would invest $939 million to help expand services for homeless veterans through private and public partnerships. It also would provide $6 billion for programs targeting the mental health needs of veterans, including those with traumatic brain injury. The proposed budget would cut spending for construction. House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, a Republican, has promised to do a thorough review of spending at the VA.
The discretionary spending represents an increase of $1 billion above 2010, to keep the President’s promise to reduce the backlog of disability claims. Invests in increased program integrity by providing $938 million, targeted at expanding efforts that ensure the agency makes payments to the right person and in the right amount, in order to generate cost savings.
Provides a gross spending (program) level of $48 billion, an increase of over $900 million over 2010 and a net level of $42 billion, a decrease of $1.1 billion from 2010. To help deliver on the President’s commitment to reduce spending, funding for several grant programs has been reduced below recent enacted levels and increases were made only for the neediest Americans, including an initiative to combat homelessness. Continues to deliver a high level of housing counseling services, including assistance for families in danger of foreclosure, and continues to offer loss mitigation solutions for FHA-insured borrowers similarly at risk. Improves public housing and revitalizes surrounding neighborhoods by providing $250 million to continue HUD’s transformative investments in high-poverty neighborhoods where distressed HUD-assisted public and privately owned housing is located.
The budget achieves savings through a reduction in funding for the Senior Community Service Employment Program, and transfers it to the Department of Health and Human Services to improve coordination with other programs for seniors. The Budget also includes a 25 percent reduction in the Job Corps construction budget. Invests almost $380 million in the Departments of Labor and Education for a competitive “Workforce Innovation Fund” that will allow States and regions to compete for funds by demonstrating their commitment to transforming their workforce systems, including breaking down program silos and paying programs for success.
President Obama wants a major boost in education spending even as he calls for a five-year freeze on domestic spending. That puts him at odds with congressional Republicans pressing for deeper cuts aimed at reducing the nation’s deficit. In his State of the Union address, Obama said investing in education and innovation was vital for America’s long-term economic growth and global competitiveness. He urged America to “out-educate” other countries.
The president is asking for $4.3 billion to improve teacher quality. Obama wants $900 million for a new round of funds for the Race to the Top initiative that the administration says has spurred critical school reforms. The competitive education grant program will be geared toward school districts, as opposed to awarding money to states as was done last year. The president is seeking $350 million in a similar challenge fund for early-learning programs. Obama is also asking for $80 million as part of a broader push to prepare 100,000 new math and science teachers in the next decade.
The budget proposes several spending initiatives designed to kick-start the president’s goal for the nation to get 80 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2035. It proposed boosts for energy sciences to discover new ways to use, store and produce energy, and for renewable energy such as solar, biofuels and geothermal. It would provide more than a half-billion dollars for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which encourages transformational energy research. It would double the number of Energy Innovation Hubs to focus on technologies like battery and energy storage and new energy grid technologies. The budget calls for $36 billion in loan guarantees to build new nuclear power plants (which was also in last year’s budget), and $853 million to support nuclear energy, including research and development for technologies like small modular reactors. In an attempt to boost electric car use, the budget would transform the $7,500 tax credit into an instant rebate, and spend around $600 million for vehicle technologies.
The budget calls for cuts in several programs, such as the Office of Fossil Energy, by eliminating the Fuels Program, the Fuel Cells Program, the Oil and Gas Research and Development Program and the Unconventional Fossil Technology Program. It also would end operations at the Tevatron facility at Fermi National Laboratory in Illinois and close the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
The Obama administration is hoping to capitalize on the strength of the agricultural economy by reducing subsidies to wealthy farmers. The budget proposes capping direct payments – subsidies paid to farmers regardless of how much they grow – by $2.5 billion. Obama’s proposal would direct an additional $56 million to research projects that reflect administration priorities. That includes nutrition and obesity research, a priority for first lady Michelle Obama, and research on food safety, bioenergy, food security and climate change.
The proposed Commerce budget includes money to advance President Obama’s goals of pushing innovation among entrepreneurs, providing high-speed Internet access to more Americans and expanding exports to foreign nations. The budget plan would boost funds for federal laboratories that promote innovation. The National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories, which have helped develop image processing, smoke detectors and pollution-control technology, would receive $764 million under the plan, an increase of more than $100 million.
The proposal would attempt to bring high-speed wireless to rural America relying on $10 billion during the next several years to develop a national broadband network for public safety agencies and $5 billion to develop wireless broadband networks in rural areas. The administration would also promote exports with more than $500 million for the International Trade Administration.
The big budget increases that the Corps of Engineers saw following Hurricane Katrina are officially over. For the second year in a row, the administration has proposed cutting the agency’s budget. This year’s cut of about 6 percent puts its annual spending at $4.6 billion _ almost exactly where it stood in 2005, before Katrina destroyed the levees around New Orleans and prompted a rush of new spending to shore up aging water infrastructure around the country. The recent cuts have been eased by the $4.6 billion for civil works under the 2009 stimulus bill.
With Congressional Republicans determined to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, Obama’s 11 percent cut meets them part of the way. The GOP wants EPA’s budget cut by a third, or $3 billion, and specifically targets the agency’s efforts to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. The proposed EPA budget eliminates an $80 million program that paid for technologies to clean up dirty diesel engines.
President Obama’s space budget is about the same as the previous year, avoiding the major proposed cuts other agencies are facing, partly because of the long planned retirement of the space shuttle fleet. With Obama continuing a Bush administration decision to stop flying the 30-year-old shuttles, NASA can then shift the couple billion dollars it has been spending yearly to launch shuttles to other projects. However, NASA will have to spend more than half a billion dollars on a pension plan payment for private company workers who helped launch the shuttle.
President Obama is calling for spending $556 billion over six years for highway, transit and passenger rail construction, as well as safety programs. That includes $53 billion for high-speed trains in addition to the $10.5 billion already committed for train projects. High-speed rail is one of Obama’s signature programs, but the budget proposal puts him on a collision course with House Republicans. They voted last week to cut $1 billion for fast trains from the current budget.
The proposed HHS budget calls for an additional $740 million for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health at a time of cutbacks across the government. And Obama is forging ahead with his health care overhaul despite a repeal push by Republicans. New spending to expand health insurance coverage would be more than offset by taxes and reductions elsewhere, so the overhaul is estimated to reduce deficits by $230 billion over 10 years.
State is spared major cuts hitting other government agencies, with a decrease of less than one percent from the previous year. The budget proposal maintains significant funds for programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Iraq, where U.S. diplomats will face serious challenges as American troops continue to withdraw. The proposed budget calls for slight increases in global development assistance and the Peace Corps but also foresees reductions for development funds in Africa and Latin America. It would eliminate direct military assistance for five countries and military training programs for nine countries to focus those funds on front-line states with strategic significance, the department said. It also would reduce economic assistance for east European and Central Asian countries.
The proposed Justice budget focused on financial crime and the ongoing threat of terrorism inside the United States. In the national security arena, the department has proposed substantially improving intelligence gathering by supporting a high-value interrogation group targeting terrorist suspects. The department also proposed continuing funding for the attorney general’s financial fraud task forces, which have targeted more than 500 criminal and civil defendants over fraud schemes that have harmed more than 120,000 victims nationwide. Losses exceed $10 billion.
Here are the spending levels proposed by President Barack Obama for each federal agency in his 2012 budget. All totals are in billions of dollars. Because Congress has not completed action on 2011 spending legislation, the 2011 numbers are Obama administration estimates of how much each agency will end up spending this year.
|Department||2011 Total||2012 Total||% Change|
|Army Corps of Eng.||4.9||4.6||-6.1|
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Suzanne Kubota contributed to this story.
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