The proposal differs from the President's budget presented last February (2012) in that it puts forward a new, government-wide inflation adjustment plan; one that would affect Social Security, veterans' pensions and the indexing of tax brackets. The adjustment is being offered to Republicans in the hope of winning concessions on the increased tax revenues. A scant few Republicans have welcomed Obama's proposal to reduce the size of future cost-of-living increases.
Senior administration officials previewed the details of the proposal on Tuesday, releasing a related "Fact Sheet" earlier in the morning. The officials said that the plan represents a "fiscally responsible plan for middle-class jobs and growth" that it "turns off" the $1.2 trillion in automatic sequestration spending cuts that took effect earlier this year.
Even before the proposal's release, Republicans raised objections to its call for tax increases and lack of spending cuts, while some Democrats opposed the plan's proposed cuts to entitlements programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. An early test of whether Republican leaders might be willing to consider Obama's budget offer will come Wednesday night, when Obama has scheduled a White House dinner with a dozen Republican Senators, and when, surely, the budget will be discussed.
Among water resource and environmental issues highlighted in the Administration's budget "Fact Sheet" are proposals to:
- Expedite "infrastructure projects by modernizing the Federal permitting process to cut through red tape while creating incentives and better outcomes for communities and the environment."
- Establish the goal of "cutting timelines in half for major infrastructure projects in areas such as highways, bridges, railways, ports, waterways, pipelines, and renewable energy."
- Realize savings from mandatory programs, such as reductions to farm subsidies.
The administration blames the two-month budget delay in submitting the proposal on lengthy "fiscal cliff" negotiations that took place at the end of last year, and on the subsequent early-2013 political fights over the automatic ("sequestration") spending cuts that kicked-in during March.