President Biden’s budget proposal on Friday kicked off what’s likely to be a long, drawn-out fight in Congress in October over how to fund the federal government.
Biden was trying to find a compromise solution with the $1.52 trillion size of the proposed budget and its allocation. Yet, the result of his compromise is that he probably angered more people in Congress than he pleased.
The defense budget will increase to $753 billion with $715 billion going to the Department of Defense and the remaining going to the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration and a few other agencies doing military work.
The more “progressive” members of the Democratic Party will no doubt be incensed at the defense budget’s modest increase of $12.3 billion. The amount represents a 1.7 percent increase, which typically keeps pace with inflation.
Most of the more liberal Democrats wanted a 10 percent reduction in the defense budget. Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said that annual defense spending could be cut, if done smartly, by as much as $100 billion. Many Republicans were looking for a three percent increase in the Defense Department’s budget while more moderate Democrats and many budget analysts wanted to keep defense spending flat.
Biden’s budget proposal cites “the need to counter the threat from China” as the Pentagon’s “top challenge.” However, top Republicans, some of whom are on defense and budget committees in the Senate, grandstanding before the details are even out, released a joint statement characterizing the 1.7 increase as a virtual cut and accusing Biden of already ceding ground to China and Russia.
“President Biden’s budget proposal cuts defense spending, sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow but also to our allies and partners,” their statement said.
“Cutting America’s defense budget completely undermines Washington Democrats’ tough talk on China and calls into question the administration’s willingness to confront the Chinese Communist Party,” it added.
The big-spending in the budget comes from a proposed 23 percent increase for the Department of Health and Human Services, 15 percent at the Housing and Urban Development, 16 percent for the Department of the Interior, 14 percent for the Department of Labor, 12 percent for the State Department, 14 percent for the Department of Transportation, 26 percent for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and 20 percent for the National Science Foundation.
Biden’s budget affirmed his desire to return to Big Government spending and comes on the heels of a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill and a proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.
His $1.52 trillion proposed budget request represents a 16 percent increase ($118 billion) over this year’s and is 25 percent higher than it was at the end of the Obama administration.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that, “We’re also inheriting a legacy of chronic underinvestment, in our view, in priorities that are vital to our long-term success and our ability to confront the challenges before us, so the president is focused on reversing this trend and reinvesting in the foundations of our strength.”
Since it is the first budget proposal, it is noticeably short on details, which is expected at this early juncture — yet, the devil always lies in the details. Additionally, the one thing that isn’t mentioned and has both sides of the aisle talking is how President Biden is going to pay for all of these massive increases in government spending and administration. To get a budget increase of this magnitude, the government may have to impose a hefty tax increase.
In the Senate where Democrats and Republicans are split 50/50, the president will need at least 10 Republicans to vote in favor to have his budget pass.
Therefore, this summer promises to be a contentious one.
And it is just the beginning…