Obama sets stage for 2016 vote with bumper budget

GMT 17:25 2015 Monday ,02 February

Arab Today, arab today Obama sets stage for 2016 vote with bumper budget

US President Barack Obama
Washington - AFP

US President Barack Obama on Monday put forward a $4 trillion budget loaded with Democrat-championed spending and tax reforms that will likely be dead on arrival at the Republican-controlled Congress.
Using a healthier economy to pivot away from years of austerity, Obama's plan would add $474 billion to the debt, overturning mandatory caps on defense and other spending.
"These proposals are practical, not partisan," said Obama.
But the budget will frame arguments about equality and responsibility likely to dominate the 2016 race to succeed him as president.
Democrats are sure to use opposition to the text to paint Republicans as anti-middle class, while Republicans will argue Democrats are promoting class warfare and are fiscally irresponsible.
The budget includes $478 billion to upgrade infrastructure and sizable measures to cut costs for people paying for child care and education -- touchstone issues for Democrats.
Obama said his plan would "help working families feel more secure with paychecks that go further."
If some of those proposals may be hard to swallow for Obama's fiscally hawkish political opponents, the way he wants to pay for them -- by taxing business and the rich -- will make them gag.
Spending would be paid for in part by an increase in capital gains tax and a one-time 14 percent tax on the estimated $2 trillion of untaxed earnings held by US firms overseas.
In a sign Obama is willing to embrace the fight, he was to detail his plans in a speech at the Department of Homeland Security, an agency that is currently the subject of a funding fight with Republicans.
Obama's advisors acknowledge that his broader budget plan has little chance of passing in its current form.
"Our hope is that by laying out a clear economic vision centered around the middle class and economic growth, we will be able to have a productive conversation," a senior administration official said.
Obama's 2016 budget assumes the world's largest economy will grow at about 3.1 percent this calendar year, with unemployment at 5.4 percent and inflation of 1.4 percent.
The deficit for 2016 would stand at 2.5 percent, comfortably below the three percent level economists deem sustainable.
- Security beyond the homeland -
The budget also includes spending to counter "Russian pressure and aggressive action" in eastern Europe.
Ukraine would receive $117 million in funding, as well as a possible $1 billion sovereign loan guarantee for 2016.
Moldova and Georgia would get $51 million "for countering Russian pressure and destabilizing activities."
There would also be funding to help defeat the Islamic State group, around $1 billion to boost governance in Central America -- the starting point for many migrants arriving in the United States -- and $14 billion to support cybersecurity.

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