Obama releases US$4T budget
United States president Barack Obama sent Congress his eighth and final budget on Tuesday, proposing to spend a record US$4.1 trillion on a number of initiatives. They include launching a new war on cancer, combating global warming and fighting growing threats from ISIS terrorists.
The new spending plan, for the budget year that begins October 1 just three and a half months before he leaves office is facing heavy fire from Republicans who hope to capture the White House. The proposal had dim prospects of winning approval in a Republican-controlled Congress.
In all, Obama's budget would increase taxes by US$2.6 trillion over the coming decade, nearly double the US$1.4 trillion in new taxes Obama sought and failed to achieve in last year's budget.
GOP lawmakers said Obama's
proposal to impose a US$10 per barrel tax on crude oil to bring in an additional US$319 billion over the next decade had no chance of winning approval in Congress. Obama's budget would use that extra money to fund billions of dollars in alternative transportation programmes as part of the president's efforts to deal with global warming.
"President Obama will leave office having never proposed a budget that balances-ever. This isn't even a budget so much as it is a progressive manual for growing the federal government at the expense of hard-working Americans," said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
"The president's oil tax alone would raise the average cost of gasolene by 24 cents per gallon, while hurting jobs and a major sector of our economy. Americans deserve better."
Ryan, Republican-Wisconsin, pledged that House Republicans would produce a budget that does reach balance in coming weeks.
Even with the increased taxes, Obama's budget projects sharply higher deficits in coming years, totalling US$9.8 trillion over the next decade. Just last summer, Obama's baseline forecast a deficit of US$8 trillion over the next decade.
Much of the problem stems from the surge in spending on the government's big benefit programmes of Social Security and Medicare, which are forecast to soar with the retirement of millions of baby boomers.
The budget sees the economy growing at a 2.6 per cent rate this year, though administration officials noted that projection was finalised in November, prior to the recent stock market slide. Inflation would remain low, registering a 1.5 per cent gain this year.