Eye Opener: A Budget Day Preview
Happy Monday! And Happy Budget Day! The Obama administration formally unveils the fiscal 2011 budget at 10 a.m. ET, a spending plan designed to demonstrate fiscal restraint that will also mean big cuts for some corners of the federal government.
But Monday's budget proposal is just that -- a proposal -- and it's likely to change significantly before Congress approves it later this year.
“We don’t expect this is going to be easy," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said Sunday in a sneak peak for reporters. "There’s a lot of opposition to some of the cuts we proposed last year and we had what I think is historically a very successful rate, about 60 percent of the cuts we proposed were enacted into law."
"Some of those cuts we didn’t get are back, we’re going to continue pushing for them even if it has a powerful interest group on Capitol Hill or K Street," Pfeiffer said.
Asked what the administration would say to federal agencies or employees facing cuts, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said they'll be offset by government expansion elsewhere.
"There are various parts of the federal workforce that are expanding," he said, naming Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, the Pentagon and the federal acquisition workforce as examples
"The agencies have stepped forward with a sensible approach to achieving this overall cap," Orszag said.
(Check The Federal Eye throughout the day for budget updates -- hit "Refresh" often -- and tell your friends to do the same!)
What to Watch For:
• Congressional Reaction: Will politically vulnerable lawmakers fight to save pet projects that the White House wants to cut or will they just go along with the fiscally responsible crowd? (Think especially of lawmakers from Florida and Texas concerned about NASA's future.)
• Republican and Fiscal Conservative Reaction: What, if any support will Obama get from the GOP -- especially after last Friday's visit to Baltimore? And will fiscal conservatives applaud or poo-poo his proposed cuts?
• Special Interest Backlash: Which groups will protest the proposed non-security cutbacks? Liberal peaceniks more interested in Defense cuts? Big business concerned with the end of certain payment programs? Farmers upset they didn't get enough aid? You get the idea.
• Pay Raises: Obama already froze pay for top officials and the administration announced a 1.4 percent pay bump for the military -- the lowest since 1973. The administration promised pay parity for civilian federal employees and members of the military, but a 1.4 percent civilian pay jump would be much lower than last year's 2 percent increase.
• Federal Workers Unions: Combine those potentially low pay raises with possible job cuts or job changes and it should be interesting to watch the unions respond -- especially since they wholeheartedly endorsed Obama's presidential campaign. Will they show the president some tough love or reluctantly accept his decision?
Some Budget Highlights:
• By the Numbers: $3.834 trillion in total spending... $1.415 trillion in discretionary spending... a projected deficit of $1.267 trillion or 8.3 percent of GDP... a 10-year deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion (excluding war savings)... more than $300 billion in tax cuts for individuals, families and business over the next 10 years.
• Taxes: $100 billion for business tax cuts, infrastructure, and clean energy... a $33 billion jobs and wages tax cut for small businesses... an extension of the Making Work Pay Tax Credit... an increase in the child care tax break for middle-class families... elimination of the tax on capital gains from new investments in small business.
• Veterans and Military Families: The biggest budget increase in Veterans Affairs history allowing President (and Mrs.) Obama to match rhetoric and personal concern for military families with big bucks. The Department of Veterans gets a 20 percent funding jump from 2009, including an already-announced $50.6 billion in advance appropriations for medical care. The Pentagon also gets a 3 percent spending increase for family support programs.
• National Security: $33 billion for a 2010 supplemental request and $159.3 billion for 2011 to support ongoing overseas military operations and the AfPak strategy... $200 million for the venue that hosts the trial for alleged 9/11 co-conspirator Khalid Sheik Mohammed... $250 million to buy the Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois, where the White House hopes to eventually jail detainees currently at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The money is warranted regardless if it ever houses terrorism detainees, because the Bureau of Prisons needs additional bed space, Orszag said.
• Homeland Security: A 2 percent budget jump to $43.6 billion... $734 million to help deploy 1,000 new body-imaging machines to the nation's busiest airports... Money to increase the number of air marshals on international flights.
• Education: $28 billion for programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)... $1.35 billion for Obama's Race to the Top challenge... $17 billion increase in Pell Grant funding versus 2010.
• Science and Technology: $61.6 billion in civilian research and development, a 6.4 percent jump... More than $100 billion for states and localities for infrastructure... A new $4 billion National Infrastructure Innovation & Finance Fund... More than $6 billion in funding for clean energy technologies.
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• The Revolving Door: On Friday President Obama tapped Larry Robinson to serve as assistant secretary of commerce for conservation and management at NOAA; Jeffrey A. Lane to serve as the Energy Department's assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs; Paul Steven Miller and Dennis J. Toner to serve as governors on the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors; J. Patricia Wilson Smoot to serve as a commissioner on the U.S. Parole Commission; and Lana Pollack to serve as a commissioner on the State Department's International Joint Commission. Track all Obama nominees with The Post's Head Count.
• Cabinet and Staff News: Senior Adviser David Axelrod calls Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito's State of the Union reactions, "unusual." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner hams it up Saturday night at the Alfalfa Dinner on President Obama's behalf. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says Hurricane Katrina was good for New Orleans schools. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson sits for his first TV interview since leaving Washington to plug his new book, which offers a glimpse inside the economic crisis. CIA Director Leon Panetta went to Israel last week. Report: Obama to nominate Robert S. Ford as ambassador to Syria. No sanctions expected for Bush-era lawyers who approved waterboarding. Veterans of the last seven presidential administrations recall their first year of service. National security folks "stuck in the mud" over Sudan. Will John Kerry, Richard Lugar, Richard Holbrooke, Jim Steinberg or Susan Rice serve as the next secretary of state?
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY:
• U.S. citizen in CIA's cross hairs: The agency builds a case for putting Anwar al Awlaki, linked to the Ft. Hood shootings and Christmas bomb attempt, on its hit list. The complications involved are a window into a secretive process.
• U.S. steps up arms sales to Persian Gulf allies: The initiatives are part of a broader push that includes unprecedented coordination of air defenses and expanded joint exercises between the U.S. and Arab militaries
• Draft Defense Department budget avoids weapons cuts, adds aircraft: The Quadrennial Defense review also predicts a future dominated by "hybrid" wars, in which traditional states will fight more like guerrillas and insurgents will arm themselves with increasingly sophisticated technology, such as antitank weapons and missiles.
• U.S. to resume airlifts out of Haiti: The U.S. military medevac flights had been halted since Wednesday over a dispute about where the patients would be treated and the costs of their care.
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION:
• In Portland, going green and growing vertical in a bid for energy savings: As part of a $133 million renovation, the agency is planning to cultivate “vegetated fins” that will grow more than 200 feet high on the western facade of the main federal building here, a vertical garden that changes with the seasons and nurtures plants that yield energy savings.
• Agencies' 28% emissions reduction target exceeds Obama's goal: The ambitious target -- larger than the 20 percent reduction initially considered by the administration -- represents the aggregate targets proposed by 35 agencies earlier this month.
• Agencies recycle, reuse 16 million pounds of electronics: The government recycled or reused 6 million more pounds of electronics in 2009 than the year before.
• Tough choices follow in wake of invasive species: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that he would ban the importation and interstate trade of the Burmese python and eight other large constrictor snakes that threaten the Everglades. And he recently instructed his staff to review how Interior can better combat exotic plants and animals.
• Obama administration may take action on Bowl Championship Series: In the letter sent Friday to Sen. Orrin Hatch, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the department is reviewing his request and other materials to determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.
• U.S. to consider local views on 9/11 trial location: In its new budget, the administration is proposing a $200 million fund to help pay for security costs in cities hosting terrorist trials.
• Hopes for NASA's moon mission fade: budget numbers will show that the administration effectively plans to kill the Constellation program that called for a return to the moon by 2020. It's also a death knell for the Ares 1 rocket, the agency's planned successor to the space shuttle.
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