Obama wants end of sequester, seeks 7% spending hike
Heralding a new budget battle with congressional Republicans, President Obama called Thursday for an end to the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration and proposed a 7% hike in spending above those limits. “Let’s make sure that we’re funding the things that we know help American families succeed,” Obama told a meeting of House Democrats as his staff disclosed parts of a proposed budget to be unveiled Monday.
The president wants to “reverse harmful sequestration cuts,” and focus instead on “middle-class economics” that includes new programs for child care, paid leave and community college, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. All told, the new federal budget proposal will include about $74 billion more in “discretionary investments” than would be allowed under sequestration in 2016, about a 7% increase over those caps, the White House said in a statement.
The plan includes $530 billion on the non-defense discretionary side, an increase of $37 billion over current limits, the White House said. The budget also proposes $561 billion in defense spending above sequester restrictions, an increase of some $38 billion. Speaking to House Democrats, Obama said the government can raise the tax revenue to pay for his proposals by “fixing a tax code that is riddled with loopholes for special interests.” Sequestration, meanwhile, threatens the nation’s economy and military because it “doesn’t differentiate between smart government spending and dumb government spending,” Obama said.
Obama’s budget is simply a proposal, and won’t get through the Republican-run House and Senate. Earnest described Monday’s release as “the beginning of a negotiation” with GOP lawmakers. Many of those Republicans say they too want to eliminate the sequester, but the Obama budget includes too many tax hikes and too much spending.
“Republicans believe there are smarter ways to cut spending than the sequester and have passed legislation to replace it multiple times, only to see the president continue to demand tax hikes,” said Cory Fritz, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Until he gets serious about solving our long-term spending problem it’s hard to take him seriously.” GOP members note that the White House signed off on the 2011 budget plan that called for automatic across-the-board budget cuts if the parties couldn’t agree on a separate package of cuts.