Yesterday, President Obama released his FY2016 budget—hundreds of pages worth of charts, spreadsheets, and budgetary policy. Since I know you are busy doing many other things, I decided to break down a few key pieces of the budget for you. As I always like to remind people, yes, the budget is a fiscal document and a political document but it is also a moral document. The budget we end up passing says something about us as a country. It shows where our priorities are and where we want to go in the coming year, as well as future years to come. Just like the rest of us, the United States government invests in what it thinks matters, in what needs help and assistance, and in where they think our country is moving. Using that framework, here are some key points to the President’s FY2016 Budget:
President Obama’s budget proposal for FY2016 will cost $3.99 trillion (beginning October 1st). The President mostly pays for the budget with nearly $1 trillion in tax increases for mainly large financial institutions, corporations, and wealthy individuals. Despite what appears to be a large sticker tag, with his revenue plan, President Obama would bring the deficit to its lowest point since 2008.
*Early Learning, Early Learning, Early Learning
President Obama places early learning and child care as one of his primary focuses in the budget. The budget proposal has a number of key initiatives that will help families better afford early learning opportunities for their children.
- Expands access to quality, affordable child care to more than 1.1 million additional children under the age of four by 2025 and helps states build a supply of quality care that families can access.
- Cuts taxes for families paying for child care with a credit (through the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC)) of up to $3,000 per child. This tax credit would benefit 5.1 million families.
- Increases the duration of Head Start programs and invests in high quality infant and toddler care.
- Lays the groundwork for Preschool for All by providing $750 million for the Department of Education’s Preschool Development Grants.
- Invests in voluntary, evidence-based home visiting.
*Tax Reform that helps working families
The President’s budget makes permanent key provisions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit that are scheduled to expire after 2017, thereby preventing 16 million low-and moderate-income families from being push into, or falling deeper into, poverty. In addition, the President also expands the EITC to childless workers (this would include parents of adult children) and non-custodial parents. This helps an additional 13.2 million low-income workers make ends meet.
Both EITC and CTC have traditionally received bi-partisan support since they are proven anti-poverty programs. There is great interest in Congress to pass a tax reform bill this year, and it’s a very good sign to see that the President is taking a stand that any tax reform must include tax breaks that help working families, not just big corporations.
*Funding for the Paid Leave Partnership Initiative
While we are still working on passing a paid parental leave bill in Congress, states are moving ahead with their own policies. The President’s budget provides $2 billion for the Paid Leave Partnership Initiative, which will assist up to five states that wish to launch paid leave programs. This will help many more families to take much needed time off when a baby is born, a child is sick, or to tend to their own health during a serious illness.
*Putting an end to sequestration
Over at MomsRising we have not been shy about saying how much we hate the sequester (across-the-board budget cuts to all discretionary spending programs). We have been calling for Congress to put an end to these disastrous cuts since the day they were passed, and thankfully President Obama agrees with us. The President said on Monday, “I want to work with Congress to replace mindless austerity with smart investments that strengthen America. I’m not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward. It would be bad for our security, and bad for our growth.” The President’s budget instead calls for a 7% increase in spending over the budget levels he agreed to in a 2011 compromise, which put the sequestration in place.
In addition, President Obama’s budget funds programs that have been cut under sequestration including $6.6 billion for WIC, $1 billion in additional funds for Headstart, and increased funds for NIH, the CDC, and other medical research projects.
Next Steps: The Uphill Battle:
The President’s budget is just a suggestion to Congress of programs he would like to see funded. It is actually up to Congress to pass a budget resolution and appropriations bills that will fund our government. The Budget Committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to release their budget proposals in March. Expect for these to look very different from the President’s proposal. Both Chairs of the Budget Committees have released statements giving hints on how they plan to proceed with their budget proposals and blasting the President’s budget, so expect not only an uphill battle to fund any of the above initiatives but also another big political debate ahead. Of course MomsRising will keep you informed the entire way forward!
There are a lot of great resources out there on the budget. Here are some of my favorite:
The White House-they have a TON of resources. Make sure to check out the “Key Issues Fact Sheets”
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ Statement on the Budget
Politico’s analysis of which of the President’s proposals will garner bi-partisan support and which are DOA
Vox’s graphic of winners and losers in the budget
Don’t forge to take action!!
Since Congress still needs to pass their own budget, your voice is more critical than ever. MomsRising has a number of active campaigns right now supporting many of the key elements of President Obama’s budget. Please take action below (and then tell all your friends to do the same!).