President Barack Obama will ask Congress to boost government spending by roughly 7 percent above current limits, the White House said Thursday, setting up a certain clash with Republicans who insist that federal spending must be held in check.
Obama's budget, to be formally released Monday, will call for $74 billion more than the levels frozen in place by across-the-board cuts agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans and signed by Obama into law. The White House said his new budget proposals will "fully reverse" the so-called sequestration on the domestic side, while raising military spending.
Under Obama's proposal, national security programs would see an increase of $38 billion over current spending limits, raising the defense budget to $561 billion. On the domestic side, Obama is calling for $530 billion in spending — an increase of $37 billion.
"If Congress rejects my plan and refuses to undo these arbitrary cuts, it will threaten our economy and our military," Obama warned in an op-ed published Thursday in The Huffington Post.
The proposal from the president, two months after voters booted his party from control of the Senate, reflects the White House's newfound confidence in the economy. Obama's aides believe that improving conditions give Obama credibility to push his spending priorities unabashedly — despite the fact that Republicans still believe government spends far too much.
Obama was to promote his proposed spending levels to House Democrats at their annual retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday evening. The White House said his budget will be "fully paid for with cuts to inefficient spending programs and closing tax loopholes," but taxpayers will have to wait until the budget is made public to find out exactly how.
While the proposal to spend more on things like education, sick leave and health care was sure to delight many members of Obama's own party, the Republicans now fully control Congress.
"This is not a surprise," said Don Stewart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's deputy chief of staff. "Previous budgets submitted by the president have purported to reverse the bipartisan spending limits through tax increases that the Congress — even under Democrats — could never accept."
The Pentagon's base budget is currently $496 billion, plus another $64 billion for overseas missions. Obama's increases would allow for next-generation F-35 fighter jets, for ships and submarines and for long-range Air Force tankers. Military leaders have also said the earlier cuts forced reductions in pilots' flying hours, training and equipment maintenance.
On the domestic side, Obama has proposed two free years of community college and creating new or expanded tax credits for child care and spouses who both work. He's called for raising the top capital gains rate on some wealthy couples and consolidating education tax breaks, although some of those ideas have already faced intense opposition.
The Associated Press