Biden releases 'skinny' $1.5trillion federal spending plan with $14billion increase for climate change, $861million for Central America and big boosts for education and health

 President Joe Biden released his 'skinny' $1.5trillion budget outlining his spending priorities in education, health, aid to Central America and tackling climate change.

The budget plan released Friday calls for an overall 8.4 per cent increase in discretionary spending with substantial gains for a list of items including housing and environmental protection.

Agencies that provide social services including the Education Department, the Health and Services Department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are all slated for big increases under the budget plan. 

Biden's plan would send $861million in aid sent to Central America amid the surge in migrants traveling north and $345million to immigration services to tackle enforcement and severe overcrowding at migrant camps.  

The request issued by the White House Office of Management and Budget spells out Biden´s top priorities as Congress weighs its spending plans for next year. It's the first financial outline of Democrats' broader ambitions since the expiration of a 2011 law that capped discretionary spending.

The outline is an addition to his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, which is outside the 'skinny' budget request.  

President Joe Biden speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden speaks about gun violence prevention in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

It is yet unclear in what areas President Biden will be reducing spending so he can move around funds for his list of proposals. 

Biden is set to meet with lawmakers from both parties, among them GOP Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, at the White House Monday, to discuss the proposals.

Education funds would hit $102 billion in the next fiscal year, a 41 per cent boost that includes a big boost in Title 1 funds for poorer school districts, and an increase for early childhood education

It also seeks a $1 billion boost in IRS funding amid a push to boost enforcement in order to wring more money from taxpayers who owe it, with a total request of $13.2 billion. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement: 'With this funding, the IRS will increase oversight of high-income and corporate tax returns to ensure compliance; provide new and improved online tools for taxpayers to communicate with the IRS easily and quickly; and improve telephone and in-person taxpayer customer service.'

It is known as the 'skinny' budget because it presents a top line view of the administration's funding priorities, with more detailed priorities to come later . All of it would have to make it through the Democratic Congress in the form of a budget resolution in both houses, followed by individual spending bills that the president would have to sign for them to become law. 

Roughly a third of the huge federal budget consists of discretionary spending, which is funding for the military, foreign policy and domestic programs set by Congress. The rest of the budget involves mandatory spending that is locked-in each year, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Biden, as vice president, helped strike the 2011 agreement with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will be on the other side of budget talks again as the chamber's minority leader. 

The compromise was meant to reduce partisan gridlock over an increase to the government´s borrowing authority in return for deficit savings.

The Biden administration believes the caps caused a decade of severe underinvestment in public services that the president is now trying to turn around with large increases that would mostly bypass national security programs.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said the request would bring spending in line with historic averages. I

t seeks $769 billion in non-defense discretionary funding, a sum the official said is equal to the 30-year average of spending relative to the overall U.S. economy.

Biden wants to increase the Education Department´s budget 40.8 per cent to $102.8 billion, which includes an additional $20 billion in grants for high-poverty schools.

The budget calls for a $14 billion boost in climate change programs

The budget calls for a $14 billion boost in climate change programs

The budget calls for $345 million for immigration services and $841million in aid to Central American countries

The budget calls for $345 million for immigration services and $841million in aid to Central American countries 

The Department of Health Human Services would get a 23.1 per cent boost to $133.7 billion. 

There would be additional funds to combat opioid addiction and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose mission took on new urgency in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The administration is also asking for $6.5 billion to establish a biomedical research agency to address cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other diseases.

Biden is seeking a $14 billion increase across government agencies to address climate change. 

Housing and Urban Development would get a 15.1 per cent increase to $68.7 billion, primarily to provide housing vouchers for an additional 200,000 families. The administration also seeks more money for civil rights enforcement addressing gun violence as a public health epidemic.

The plan also details how the Biden administration will try to deal with the influx of arrivals at the U.S. southern border. 

It includes $861 million to invest in Central America to address the forces driving people to migrate to the United States. 

An additional $345 million would go to immigration services to resolve delays in years-long naturalization and asylum cases. 

The budget for the Executive Office of Immigration Review would jump 21 per cent to $891 million in order to hire 100 new immigration judges and support teams to reduce the existing backlogs. 

The president seeks modest increases for national security. Defense -- the largest department in the discretionary plan -- would get a 1.6 per cent increase to $715 billion. Homeland Security would edge up 0.2 percent to $52 billion.

Friday´s request does not include plans for tax revenues or mandatory federal spending. Nor does it include the planned spending in Biden´s infrastructure plan.

Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, criticized Biden's latest spending plan: 'Defeating COVID and supporting the economic recovery have been – rightly so – the top priority for the past year. 

'But with the debt and deficit both projected to reach all-time highs this year, it’s time to start planning how to improve our long-term fiscal outlook.

'The President’s proposed 16 percent increase in non-defense discretionary spending comes on top of a more than 20 percent increase since 2017, and would be quite costly if it isn’t offset elsewhere in the budget. 

'Assuming these increases are sustained in future years, they would cost hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade.

'President Biden is entitled to pursue his policy agenda, but the expiration of discretionary spending caps shouldn’t mean the end of budget discipline. 

'The President’s proposal, if anything, is a good reminder on the need to extend the discretionary spending caps that expire at the end of this year. Now is not the time to go on a spending spree, particularly without identifying offsetting tax increases or spending reductions.

'Importantly, discretionary spending encompasses only a third of the budget. We can’t truly evaluate the President’s agenda until we know how he’ll address the other two-thirds of the budget and what he will do on the other side of the ledger with taxes. 

'We hope the full budget plan will include policies to not only offset new spending, but secure the trust funds and improve the country's long-term fiscal path.'

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