Woodward, Okla. —
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's election-year budget seeks to rally fellow Democrats with new help for the working poor and fresh money for road-building, education and research. It also pulls back from controversial cuts to Social Security that had been designed to lure Republicans to the bargaining table.
Otherwise, Tuesday's $3.9 trillion submission for the 2015 budget year, which begins in October, looks a lot like Obama's previous plans. It combines proposals for more than $1.1 trillion in tax increases on the wealthy with an array of modest initiatives such as job training funds, money to rehabilitate national parks and funding for early childhood education.
"Our budget is about choices. It's about our values," Obama said at a Washington elementary school. "As a country, we've got to make a decision, if we're going to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans or if we're going to make smart investments necessary to create jobs and grow our economy and expand opportunity for every American."
Obama's previous budgets have mostly gone nowhere, and that's where Tuesday's submission appears to be headed as well. Instead, Congress is likely to adhere to last year's mini budget deal as it looks ahead to midterm elections this fall.
Said Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee: "This budget isn't a serious document; it's a campaign brochure."
The president unveiled his budget eight months before congressional elections in which Republicans are expected to gain seats in the House and have a chance of seizing control of the Senate. GOP control of Congress in the final two years of his presidency would leave his agenda in tatters.
Obama's submission purports to adhere to the budget limits negotiated in December by Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. But it also proposes a $55 billion "Opportunity, Growth, and Security" fund that would supplement the 2015 limit on agency operating budgets set by the Ryan-Murray agreement. Half of the additional money would be for defense and half for domestic programs. And the increase would continue into the future. All told, Obama proposes $304 billion above existing limits on agency operating budgets over the coming five years, an almost 6 percent increase.