Jennifer Shutt, Iowa Capital Dispatch
President Joe Biden’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year asks Congress to boost funding for defense and domestic programs and levy a 25% minimum tax on billionaires, setting up a significant contrast with House Republicans, who hope to cut spending to last year’s levels and overwhelmingly oppose tax increases.
The president’s budget request, released Thursday, calls on U.S. lawmakers to increase defense spending to $885 billion and funding for non-defense accounts to $1.015 trillion. That would increase both categories from the $858 billion in defense spending and about $773 billion in non-defense funding Congress approved in December when it wrapped up last year’s process.
“My 2024 Budget is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America in a fiscally responsible way that leaves no one behind,” Biden said in a written statement accompanying the budget release.
The budget request, Biden wrote, would lower “costs for families — with new measures to expand health coverage, cap prescription drug costs, invest in quality child care, build affordable housing, reduce home energy bills, make college more affordable, and more.”
Biden’s budget requests lawmakers extend “the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by at least 25 years, and invest in service delivery so that seniors and people with disabilities can access the benefits they have earned.”
The tax section of the budget proposes Congress establish a 25% minimum tax on billionaires’ income, including appreciated assets, with Biden writing that “no billionaire should ever pay a lower tax rate than a school teacher or a firefighter.”
Biden also asks U.S. lawmakers to quadruple “the tax on corporate stock buybacks, so companies invest more in production to improve quality and lower prices, and less in buybacks that only benefit shareholders and CEOs.”
“This Budget closes tax loopholes for the wealthy and cracks down on tax cheats, and it once again ensures that no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in new taxes, period,” Biden wrote.
Increases for agriculture, education
The budget request’s spending section calls on Congress to provide significant increases to several federal departments, including a 15% boost to the Treasury Department, a 14% increase to the Agriculture Department, a nearly 14% boost to the Education Department and an 11% increase to the Health and Human Services Department.
The National Science Foundation would get a nearly 19% increase in spending and the Environmental Protection Agency would see a 19% increase in its budget if Congress agrees to the request.
The Transportation Department would see a nearly 3% reduction in its budget while the Army Corps of Engineers would see its budget drop by 14%.
The budget request starts the fiscal 2024 spending process, which was supposed to begin the first Monday in February when the White House should have released the president’s budget.
The president’s budget is simply a request since Congress controls the ability to set tax policy and determines federal spending, but it shows the executive branch priorities.
Budget battle launches
The release of the president’s budget on Thursday will kick off a flurry of activity on Capitol Hill, where the House and Senate spending panels will soon hold hearings with the vast majority of Cabinet secretaries and agency heads on their budget requests.
The House and Senate appropriations committees will then each draft the dozen annual government spending bills sometime this summer before heading to conference later this year.
The House Budget Committee, controlled by Republicans, is expected to release its budget resolution for fiscal 2024 sometime this spring, though that tax and spending blueprint is not a bill and doesn’t get signed into law.
Biden has repeatedly called on the House GOP to release its budget resolution, arguing that once his budget request and their budget resolution are both public, the two sides can compare and contrast to potentially find common ground.
Biden has also repeatedly rebuked Republicans because some members of the party have proposed changes to programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, has not said if the Senate will release a budget resolution this year or not.
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