Politics

5 Budget Proposals a Future Democratic President Could Support

President Barack Obama in his last year in office released a budget on Tuesday chock full of Democratic priorities that likely won't be enacted into law while he is in office but could be championed by the next president if a Democrat wins the White House.  

Here are five of Obama's budget proposals a future Democratic president would be likely to embrace:

  1. Clean Energy Investments -- Obama is proposing to dedicate nearly $8 billion to clean energy investments in fiscal 2017, including more than $1.3 billion to increase use of clean energy sources such as solar, wind and low-carbon fossil fuels, as well as energy-efficiency technologies. Promoting renewable energy has long been a Democratic priority, one that would likely continue if the party holds the White House in November.
  2. Increased Transportation Funding -- The administration wants to invest more money in transportation than has been spent in recent years, with a proposal for a $320 billion investment over 10 years to support a multi-agency effort to build a clean transportation system. That would mean "new technology for highway, transit, and rail programs that reduces America’s dependence on oil and cuts carbon pollution.” Democrats broadly support increased spending to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, and if Obama is succeeded by Democrat, that ask is likely to continue in future budgets. Democrats become more divided when discussing how to pay for the increased transportation spending. Obama’s proposal to charge oil companies a fee of $10 per barrel of oil may not be championed by all Democrats, but for many it will likely be an easier sell than a gas tax increase.
  3. Education Expansions -- Democrats tend to support federal spending on education far more than Republicans, and Obama's budget offers plenty of new areas in which they can use federal dollars. For example, Obama proposes $4 billion in mandatory spending to expand computer science education, expanded access to preschool for 4-year-old children from low- and moderate-income families and increased funding for the Head Start early education program. He's also supporting free tuition at community college for certain students. Not all of Obama's proposals would necessarily be championed by a Democratic successor, but the early ed and community college, in particular, are ideas that resonate with the top candidates.
  4. Paid Leave Programs -- Obama's budget offers $2 billion to help up to five states launch paid family and medical leave programs and provide small grants to other states and localities that want to conduct analyses to develop such programs. Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both include paid leave policies among their proposals to help working families.
  5. Sequestration Relief -- No Democratic president is expected to allow the sequestration spending cuts to stand. Obama's budget request provides enough deficit reduction to reverse more than half of the sequestration cuts over the next five years through a combination of spending reductions and tax increases. A Democrat in the White House this time next year will likely have his or her own ideas about how to achieve the savings, but will surely seek to stave off the cuts Democrats in Congress have worked tirelessly to prevent from taking effect.

McPherson can be reached at lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com or follow her on Twitter @lindsemcpherson

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