US President Barack Obama was planning to undo cuts on defense and other domestic programs as part of his budget for 2016, the White House said Thursday.
Obama’s main goal is to freeze the so-called “sequester,” a series of automatic cuts which would reduce spending by $1 trillion (roughly 884 billion euros) by 2021 if left unchecked. The sequester came into effect as part of an uneasy compromise between Republicans and Democrats in a budget dispute that shut down the US government for just over two weeks in October 2013.
“The president believes we should end the era of manufactured crises and mindless austerity,” the White House said in a statement.
More funding for defense
Obama was expected to formally announce his plans at a meeting with Congressional Democrats on Thursday in Philadelphia.
“The president’s budget will fully reverse those cuts for domestic priorities and match those investments dollar-for-dollar with the resources our troops need to keep America safe,” news agency AFP quoted a White House official as saying.
The fiscal budget for 2016 would be released on Monday, with a proposal to increase spending by seven percent over limits set in 2013. The budget would propose a $530-billion budget for non-defense discretionary spending, around $37 billion above the 2013 cap, and $561 billion in defense outlays, $38 billion above the earlier limit.
The projected financial estimates for 2016 were also expected to boost funding for infrastructure and research on medicine and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Obama was also planning to outline proposals like guaranteeing paid sick leave and making community college free for some students, as promised in his recent State of the Union address.
Obama takes on Republicans
Obama’s aides believe that rising confidence in the US economy, reduction in federal deficits and falling gas prices and unemployment rates gave Obama the wiggle room to go ahead with his spending plans, but the Democrat president could face problems as his Republican opponents control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“If the Congress rejects my plans and refuses to undo these arbitrary cuts, it will threaten our economy and our military,” Obama wrote in an opinion article published in the Huffington Post, justifying his proposal.
However, Republicans are split on the automatic cuts as put forward by Obama, with their heavy leaning towards defense spending; many Republican leaders want to continue cutting government spending, but most also profess to staunchly support the military.