The budget for the fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1 is largely a
political document and is unlikely to be passed by the
But it gives the Democratic president, who leaves office in January,
a chance to make a last pitch for funding on issues such as
education, criminal justice reform and job creation.
"That document ... will be President Obama's final vision of how he
lays out the fiscal future for the country," said Joel Friedman,
vice president for federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and
"I don't think anyone expects it to be enacted this year.
Republicans aren't going to embrace it, but that doesn't mean it's
not going to be a useful document."
Congress can advance elements of the budget without endorsing the
entire proposal, which is likely to call for roughly $4 trillion in
total spending, in line with Obama's $3.99 trillion proposal for
fiscal year 2016.
The budget is likely to stay within the confines of an agreement
reached between the White House and Congress last year that lifted
mandatory "sequestration" cuts on both defense and domestic
Friedman noted that Obama and Republican Speaker of the House of
Representatives Paul Ryan agreed on some ways to fight poverty, such
as an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit to encourage
low-income Americans to work.
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But differences between the two political parties in a presidential
election year are especially pronounced, and Republican lawmakers
have taken the unusual step of not inviting White House budget
director Shaun Donovan to brief about the proposal.
“Maybe they are taking the Donald Trump approach to debates about
the budget. They are just not going to show up,” White House
spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters last week, referring to the
Republican presidential front-runner's decision to skip a debate
with his counterparts ahead of the nominating contest in Iowa.
The administration has already released key elements. The Pentagon
will ask for more than $7 billion for the fight against Islamic
State, up about 35 percent from the previous year's request, and
Obama will seek a 20 percent boost for renewable energy research
funding to a total of $7.7 billion.
(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton and Susan Cornwell; Editing
by Cynthia Osterman)
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