Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Obama's Budget Proposal: Spending Delays and Endangered Butterflies; 5 Things to Watch

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Obama's Budget Proposal: Spending Delays and Endangered Butterflies; 5 Things to Watch

Article excerpt

Here are five things great and small about the president's spending plan and the GOP reaction to it:

BUDGET GAMES

To be precise, Obama's budget claims 2016 spending of $3.999 trillion.

Is it a coincidence that the total falls just below the more attention-grabbing figure of

$4 trillion?

All but certainly not. For years, smart budget geeks from both parties have figured out ways to make numbers less troublesome. Intentional or not, Obama's budget contains an example.

Among his initiatives are two Commerce Department programs aimed at helping young technology firms develop products that can be manufactured in the U.S.

Conveniently, neither one starts spending money until 2017. That means no pesky 2016 expenditures that might help tip that year's overall spending total to $4 trillion and beyond.

CLIMATE CHANGE

While many Republicans consider climate change a liberal fiction aimed at hurting the coal industry, Obama's budget argues that the extreme conditions it's causing are already costing taxpayers money. The price tag: $300 billion over the past decade.

More than half that cost $179 billion comes from the government's response to hurricanes and other disasters. Other major expenditures the budget attributes to extreme weather and rising sea levels including crop insurance, flood insurance and battling wildfires.

The budget also cites

$64 million for repairing damage torrential rain caused to a military installation in the Southwest and unspecified spending boosts for health care and mushrooming overseas conflicts. It even expects growing expenditures for protecting endangered species, citing declining populations of Edith's checkerspot butterflies.

FEDERAL DEFICITS

Obama's budget projects a $474 billion deficit for 2016, the lowest it's been since 2008.

That is a huge improvement over the recession-fueled shortfalls of Obama's first four years in office, when the red ink exceeded $1 trillion annually. …

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