Obama releases $3.9 trillion fiscal year 2015 budget plan

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, March 4, 2014 - President Obama released a $3.9 trillion fiscal year 2015 budget today to fund government departments, including USDA and EPA.

The White House said the budget provides a roadmap for accelerating economic growth, expanding opportunity for all Americans, and ensuring fiscal responsibility. It would invest in infrastructure, job training, preschool, and pro-work tax cuts, while aiming at reducing deficits through health, tax, and immigration reform. It seeks to curb inefficient and unfair tax breaks that benefit the wealthiest.

Editor's Note: A more detailed report on how the budget could affect USDA and agricultural issues will be supplied to Agri-Pulse subscribers in Wednesday's newsletter. To receive a copy of our e-newsletter, click here:

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“This opportunity agenda is built on four parts - more good jobs and good wages; making sure that we're training workers with the skills they need to get those good jobs; guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education; and making sure that our economy is one in which hard work is rewarded,” Obama said.

The administration said the budget would target research and development resources to areas most likely to directly contribute to the creation of transformational technologies that can create the businesses and jobs of the future, such as advanced manufacturing, clean energy, health care, and agriculture.

It would advances the president's “all-of-the-above” strategy on energy by investing in production of natural gas; promoting cleaner-burning fossil fuel technology such as natural gas with carbon capture; supporting the development of clean energy alternatives; advancing energy efficiency in cars, trucks, homes, and buildings; expanding and making permanent the tax credit for renewable energy production; and eliminating $4 billion per year in taxpayer subsidies to the oil, gas, and other fuel producers.

Further, the budget would support Obama's Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution in the United States by reducing emissions through reasonable standards and improving energy efficiency.

The budget seeks to address growing cost and damage from wildfires by creating a dedicated source of funding outside of the discretionary budget caps for wildland fire suppression.

“We know that future generations will continue to deal with the effects of a warming planet, so this budget proposes a smarter way to address the costs of wildfires,” Obama said. “And it includes over $1 billion in new funding for new technologies to help communities prepare for a changing climate today, and set up incentives to build smarter and more resilient infrastructure.”

The budget also requests that Congress enact bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform based on the Senate-passed bill, which aims to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented farm workers as well as create a legal workforce for farms through expanded visa availability for seasonal workers. The administration said the Congressional Budget Office has found the reforms would reduce the deficit by almost $1 trillion and increase the economy by $1.4 trillion over the next 20 years.

The budget is expected to be greeted by a frosty reception from lawmakers.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Democrats are set to mark the proposal as “Do Not Resuscitate.” Grassley noted Senate leadership has indicated they will not approve a budget this year. “Seems like a cavalier attitude when we're talking about $1 trillion in discretionary funding that will operate government agencies, including those responsible for administering military, transportation and education dollars,” Grassley said.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the president has given up on addressing the nation's economic woes.

“It's long past time for the president to get serious about working with Congress to pass bipartisan reforms that will actually improve Americans' lives, like repealing the medical device tax, approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and enacting trade promotion authority,” Thune said.

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