The Woodward News

Local News

March 5, 2014

Obama offers budget designed to rally Democrats

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — This includes extra spending for the Pentagon for readiness, repair of deteriorating military bases and the purchase of aircraft. On the domestic front, the plan promises grants to states for preschools, new research financed by the National Institutes of Health and modernization of aviation safety systems, among other initiatives.

The White House also is dropping a proposal to reduce the annual inflation increases for people on Social Security. This proposed "chained CPI" change is seen as a no-brainer by budget hawks, and was a key request of Republicans in previous, failed rounds of budget talks. But it was widely panned by most Democrats and allies including the AFL-CIO. The White House says it remains on the table if Republicans want to pursue a "grand bargain" on the budget that would include tax increases.

The Obama budget projects a 2015 deficit of $564 billion and a shortfall this year of $649 billion. If those come true, it would mark three straight years of annual red ink under $1 trillion, following four previous years when deficits exceeded that mark every time.

Overall, the 2015 budget projects a $250 billion increase in spending over the record $3.65 trillion expected for the current year. Spending actually dropped to $3.46 trillion in the 2013 fiscal year completed last Sept. 30.

Republicans instead want Obama to join them in taking on expensive benefit programs like Medicare and Social Security, whose growth is driving future deficits and squeezing other priorities like defense, education, transportation and research. Medicare costs are projected to almost double over the coming decade, from $513 billion this year to $947 billion in 2024, but funding for non-defense programs appropriated by Congress would increase by less than inflation.

"The president has just three years left in his administration, and yet he seems determined to do nothing about our fiscal challenges," said Ryan, who was Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate in the 2012 national election.

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