Obama’s Budget Giveth; Obama’s Budget Taketh Away

February 15, 2011 | By Liza Casabona | 1 comment

Yesterday, President Obama unveiled a $3.7 trillion budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 that if enacted would eliminate or reduce spending on a host of critical domestic discretionary programs and cut funding for half of the federal agencies, while looking to fulfill administration pledges to invest in previously outlined priorities like high-speed rail, education and broadband access.

In line with previous indications, the president’s budget proposal cut $300 million from the Community Development Block Grants, cut the Community Services Block Grant in half and trimmed $2.5 billion in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding, a move the administration said would bring spending on the program back in line with current home heating costs. His budget also cut more than $1 billion in grants for large airports and $950 million in states’ revolving funds for water treatment plants and other infrastructure investments.

The president’s FY 2012 budget request detailed eliminations or cuts for more than 200 programs including the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative, Career Pathways Innovation Fund, Inter-City Bus Security Grant Program, Local Government Climate Change Grants, Rural Fire Assistance, the Community Economic Development Program and Job Corps.

On a more positive note, funding for the Department of Education would rise to $77.4 billion, including significant increases in resources for K-12 education, $1.4 billion for new competitions modeled on the “Race to the Top” initiative and $975 million of competitive initiatives to recruit, train and retain high-quality teachers.

Congress has yet to unveil its own appropriations bills for FY 2012, since lawmakers are still preoccupied with hashing out spending levels for the remainder of FY 2011. A budget was never finalized and the government has been operating under a temporary continuing resolution that expires on March 4. With that deadline looming the latest buzz in D.C. is that it’s looking increasingly likely Congress will pass another short-term CR to keep the government running and buy more time to work out the details around funding the rest of FY 2011.

Given the fiscal realities facing the federal government, do FY 2012 increases in funding for education and infrastructure justify the cuts to other crucial social programs? Tell us what you think.

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One Comment

  1. redwest
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t the question predicated upon the assumption that interfering with education, an inherently State and local function, is in fact within the scope of what the Federal government should be spending money on?

    The reality is that there is no justification for increasing spending at the Federal level in any of his proposed “investment” categories. A better question, especially given the harsh realities of the current economy as well as international crises on multiple fronts, is “When will the President and Congress (both parties) stop playing fiscal shell games with our money and actually take on a serious baseline budget approach that first examines what the Federal government has the constitutional authority to interfere with, then evaluate qualified current programs on an outcomes based approach to determine which should be continued and which should be scrapped.” This is a far different question than “where should we increase spending and where should we pretend to cut”.

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