President Obama has finally unveiled his last budget as the leader of our nation – and it’s chock full of progressive goals and desperately needed spending that sends a clear message to the American people about which party truly cares about their well-being. The $4.1 trillion budget proposal has already been met with howls of protest from Congressional Republicans, who find themselves opposed to investing in cancer research and ending homelessness in their incessant demands for their illogical demands for both tax cuts and a “balanced budget,” which, as the Center On Budget And Policy Priorities notes, “holds substantial risk of tipping faltering economies into recessions, making recessions longer and deeper, and precipitating very large additional job losses.”
The major points of the budget are as follows:
- $11 billion dollars over the next ten years to fight homelessness in America in the form of $8.8 billion in housing vouchers for low-income families and $2.2 billion on short-term assistance, which would help uplift some 550,000 families out of poverty.
- $1.8 billion to the Securities and Exchange Commission in order to better empower the watchdog agency to more closely monitor Wall Street financial institutions and prosecute financial crimes
- A $10.25-a-barrel tax on oil, paid for by oil companies, to raise some $319 billion to improve our crumbling infrastructure and “upgrade the nation’s transportation system, improve resilience and reduce emissions,”
- Increasing funds for Obamacare Medicaid expansion by $2.6 billion to try to convince more red states to abandon their absurd holdouts and accept free money for their sick citizens
- $ 1 billion in funding to help fight the heroin epidemic that is ravaging communities across the country
- $150 billion boost for scientific initiatives, including $1 billion in funding for cancer research
- $1.3 billion to battle climate change through the Global Climate Change Initiative
- a 6.3% increase in funding for veterans’ care, raising the total to $65 billion
- $19 billion for improving our government’s dreadful cybersecurity and to bring government computers up to date, a necessity after it was discovered that Chinese hackers had been fooling around in the files of the Office of Personnel Management for over a year and stole the files of 22 million Americans
- To pay for all of this and keep the deficit in check, Obama has proposed Bernie Sanders-style tax raises on the mega-wealthy: “hundreds of billions in new taxes, including raising the top tax rate on capital gains, slapping a new fee on the biggest financial firms and imposing the “Buffett Rule,” which would require wealthy millionaires to pay at least 30 percent of income in taxes.” He would also save us billions by ending oil, gas, and coal tax credits.
“The budget is a roadmap to a future that embodies America’s values and aspirations: a future of opportunity and security for all of our families; a rising standard of living; and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids!” announced President Obama at the unveiling of the budget proposal. Unfortunately, it was already being disparaged by Congressional Republicans before they had even seen it, showing once and for all how unwilling they are to even engage the President on the governance of this nation and have put all their chips in their so-far failed efforts to derail his agenda enough to get a Republican elected.
The House Budget Chairman has refused to even have the President’s budget adviser, Shaun Donovan, testify before their committee – an incredibly rude snub that is unprecedented and prompted an outcry from Congressional Democrats and a staunchly-worded letter penned by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and a number of other Senators, slamming them for wasting time on “overt partisanship when we should be addressing important issues that face our country.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan derided the budget as not even “a budget so much as it is a progressive manual for growing the federal government at the expense of hardworking Americans.” The Republican National Committee complained that it “reads more like a wish list for Hillary Clinton’s campaign than a serious proposal” – which should be good news for those of us in America that understand that investing in our nation and our economy is how we achieve growth. Hoarding money in the vaults of Wall Street banks or in offshore tax havens does little good for anyone. We can expect both candidates for the Democratic ticket to see this budget as a blueprint for their own proposals, empowering both as potential standard-bearers for protecting the President’s legacy long into the future.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.