Obama is Still Crazy Obama defends $4 trillion budget

Obama is Still Crazy Obama defends $4 trillion budget, cites national
Posted on February 2, 2015 by Tribune News Service Views

WASHINGTON (TNS) -- President Barack Obama launched Monday into the first
clash in a series of budget battles as he unveiled his nearly $4 trillion
spending plan, immediately calling on Republicans to fully fund the
Department of Homeland Security despite their objections to his new
immigration policy that the agency will carry out.

"Don't jeopardize our national security over this disagreement," Obama said
Monday in remarks at the department. Its funding is set to expire at the
end of the month. He warned Republicans not to "play politics" with
economic and national security.

Obama made the push as he released a budget for fiscal 2016 aimed at
securing his political position as the defender of the middle class. His
plan blows past mandatory spending caps to beef up programs that benefit
lower- and middle-income Americans and proposes to pay for the programs
with tax hikes on the wealthiest taxpayers, major corporations and
financial firms.

The document completes Obama's shift from years of grim economic forecasts
and austerity cuts into what he's labeled "America's resurgence." His
budget projects an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in 2016 and falls to a
low of 4.9 percent in 2017 and 2018 -- before climbing slightly over the
next several years.

Over that same period, Obama's plan would essentially maintain deficit
spending at the current levels as a slice of the economy -- about 2.5
percent of gross domestic product -- and would continue to add to the debt
over the next decade.

Obama made the case Monday for the increased investment as necessary to
sustain a strong recovery and to ensure the success of U.S. missions abroad.

"We can afford to make these investments while remaining fiscally
responsive," Obama said. "In fact ... we can't afford not to."

Obama's approach won poor marks from advocates of entitlement reform.

"Failing to address the drivers of the debt will ultimately undermine the
president's other priorities," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the
bipartisan advocacy group Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "The
focus on promoting investment today will do little good if our massive debt
is choking the investments of tomorrow. And the desire to strengthen
middle-class families cannot be fulfilled if Social Security and Medicare
remain on a path to insolvency with huge across-the-board cuts looming in
the future."

Republicans have already declared much of the new spending a liberal pipe
dream with no chance of winning approval -- a point the White House did not
dispute. Still, the plan was an opening offer with elements meant to draw
Republicans into talks.

The president's budget includes a proposal to overhaul how companies pay
taxes on offshore profits with a onetime 14 percent tax and a 19 percent
tax rate going forward. The plan would pay for roughly half of a new $478
billion public-works program. Republicans have signaled their openness to
such a scheme in the past.

Obama's budget also calls to end the so-called sequestration budget
restraints set to take effect this spring. Republicans also have expressed
interest on removing the caps -- although only for defense spending.

Obama indicated he was ready to use that as leverage in winning money for
domestic programs.

"I'm not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going
forward," Obama said, adding that he would oppose a deal that "severs the
vital link" between defense spending and domestic priorities.

"Those two things go hand in hand," he said.

-Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons
Tribune Washington Bureau