WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is unveiling his eighth and final budget, a $4 trillion-plus proposal that’s freighted with liberal policy initiatives and new and familiar tax hikes — all sent to a dismissive Republican-controlled Congress that simply wants to move on from his presidency.
The budget will be released Tuesday morning, the same day as the New Hampshire primary when it’s likely to get little attention. It comes as the deficit, which had been falling over the duration of Obama’s two terms, has begun to creep up, above the half-trillion mark.
The White House is countering the worsening deficit outlook with a proposed $10-per barrel tax on oil that would finance “clean” transportation projects. It also is sure to propose taxes on the wealthy and corporations.
Long gone are proposals such as slowing the automatic inflation increase for Social Security benefits and other ideas once aimed at drawing congressional Republicans into negotiations on a broader budget deal.
Now, Obama has broken out a budget playbook filled with ideas sure to appeal to Democrats: A “moonshot” initiative to cure cancer; increasing Pell Grants for college students from low-income backgrounds; renewed incentives for GOP-governed states to join the expanded Medicaid system established under the health care law, and incentives to boost individual retirement accounts.
“We’re going to impose a tax on a barrel of oil — imported, exported — so that some of that revenue can be used for transportation, some of that revenue can be used for the investments in basic research and technology that’s going to be needed for the energy sources of the future,” Obama said. “Then 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, we’re going to be in a much stronger position when oil starts getting tight again, prices start going up again.”
Republicans, however, immediately rejected the idea after its release last week and it will meet the fate of prior dead-on-arrival proposals such as increasing capital gains taxes on the wealthy, imposing a fee on big banks, and cutting the value of charitable deductions for upper-income taxpayers. Higher cigarette taxes and a minimum 30 percent rate for wealthier filers have also gone nowhere.