President Obama wants to help you get back on track to achieving the American dream.
This week, the president released a $3.9 trillion budget proposal for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Raising tobacco taxes to make preschool universal (read: free) for all 4-year-olds, expanding the existing tax credit for full-time worker’s child care cost and offering tax relief for those with loans for college or federal grants are just a few of the motions that Obama has put forward to reach the proposal’s overall objective: to squash economic inequality and increase chances for upward mobility for lower- and middle-class Americans.
But there’s more: with midterm elections for the Senate, Congress and House of Representatives around corner, Obama’s budget and the Republican’s upcoming alternative budget are gunning for votes this fall by offering what they believe to be the best recession-recovery solutions.
Here’s a closer look at what the president’s budget proposal aims to deliver:
- Professional development to 100,000 teachers in 500 districts to help them make effective use of new broadband connectivity,
- Access to high-quality infant and toddler care to a total of more than 100,000 children through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships, and supports Head Start grantees who are expanding program duration and investing in teacher quality, through additional funding in the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative,
- Investment in educating the health care workforce to improve access to health care services, including support to place and maintain 15,000 providers in the National Health Service Corps that will serve areas across the country that need them most, and creating 13,000 graduate medical education residency slots over ten years in primary care and other high need specialties,
- Increase in minimum wage to $10.10 and indexing it to inflation thereafter, while also raising the minimum wage for tipped workers for the first time in over 20 years,
- Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for childless workers aged 21 to 24, doubling the maximum credit to $1,000 as an incentive to continue working (young adult males have been dropping out of the labor force at noticeable rates.)
How exactly does Obama plan to pay for all of this, you might ask? In large part by ending two tax breaks that some wealthy taxpayers currently receive, a bipartisan-motivated measure to tie-up loopholes that decrease taxes for some self-employed professionals and investment-fund managers, the New York Times reported.
Speaking of bipartisanship, the focus on twenty-something childless workers stems from an idea that originated in the Republican party decades ago, which speaks to Obama and the Democratic party’s struggle to have the GOP take this proposal seriously. At the same time, the proposal lacks much of the compromise of last year’s budget and does not shy away from addressing the minimum wage to help workers escape poverty, a move that both the party and Obama consider a benefit for the government budget and the nation in the long run.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priority agrees, calling the president’s proposal “a solid blueprint that would reduce deficits, alleviate poverty, and boost investment in areas needed for future economic growth, such as infrastructure, education, and research.”
Yet, despite Obama’s insistence of “bipartisan progress,” the budget has already been considered dead D.O.A on Capitol Hill.
According to NPR, Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, reportedly said Obama “has once again opted for the political stunt—for a budget that’s more about firing up the president’s base in an election year than about solving the nation’s biggest and most persistent long-term challenges.”
Experts expect the Republican party’s budget to counter with a no-tax-increase attack on benefit programs and federal deficits.
“After years of fiscal and economic mismanagement, the president has offered perhaps his most irresponsible budget yet,” said Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement.
“In the coming weeks, Republicans will produce a responsible budget that balances, promotes opportunity, reforms our tax code, saves our critical safety net programs, and places a priority on creating jobs, not more government.”