President Barack Obama introduced his 2014 budget plan with a campaign-style event in the Rose Garden Wednesday, complete with an audience of applauding staffers and a laundry list of poll-tested spending proposals.
“We’ve got to get smarter about our responsibilities as a nation,” he told the cameras, as he introduced his request that Congress spend $3.8 trillion in 2014, including $744 billion in borrowed money.
“The numbers work. There’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors in here,” Obama claimed, as he argued that the economy would be boosted by extra government spending on novel energy technology and by “new ladders of opportunity” for middle-class Americans.
Obama’s plan — which includes the request for spending in 2014 plus the outline of a 10-year spending plan — was released was two month after its legal due date and several weeks after the House and Senate decided on their rival 10-year plans.
The budget plan is widely regarded by GOP staffers as campaign tool to help Democrats win the 2014 midterm elections. Obama and top Democrats are working to keep Democrats in charge of the Senate, and to win a Democratic majority in the House.
But the event will also reduce media coverage of a controversial, Obama-backed plan by a Democratic-led group of senators to rewrite the nation’s immigration plan.
The controversial 1,500-page plan could have an enormous impact on Americans’ job opportunities, and could cost them trillions of dollars over the next 20 years. It would also likely increase the number of Democratic-leaning voters after 2025.
Obama’s budget plan includes a series of themes and spending proposals that can help Obama portray himself as moderate to swing-voters, and also as a provider of aid to groups of Americans suffering amid his first and second terms.
Since his inauguration, wages earned by many Americans have fallen or stalled as the unemployment lines has lengthened to include 14 million Americans and recent immigrants.
In the Rose Garden, Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage, for government-run daycare that would be funded by a tax on tobacco, for unexplained reforms to schools, for more spending to develop alternatives to cheap gasoline, and for extra taxes on “the wealthy and well-connected [who] game the system.”
He also portrayed himself as a moderate eager to build compromise with the GOP, which he portrayed as greedy, reckless and uncaring.
Obama asked Congress to spend more than even Senate Democrats voted for in March.
The Democratic-led Senate voted in to spend $3.71 trillion, or $160 billion more than Obama wants Congress to spend.
The GOP-led House voted in March to spend just $3.2 trillion in 2014, almost $577 billion less than Obama’s request.
“The people I feel for are the people who are directly feeling the pain” of GOP-imposed budget cuts, he claimed, including military communities, middle-class families, children and seniors.
He tried to bolster that contrast by saying he would accept some GOP-pushed spending cuts to the fast-growing Medicare program. “I don’t believe that all these ideas are optimal, but I’m willing to accept them are part of a comprise — if, and only if, they contain protections for the most vulnerable Americans.,” he claimed.
“When it comes to deficit reduction, I’ve already met Republicans more than halfway,” he claimed.
Since Obama was inaugurated, the government’s debt has ballooned from 11 trillion to $17 trillion. Obama’s new 10-year plan would raises taxes and fees by $1 trillion, and also borrow at least $5.27 trillion.