Durbin On President Obama's Budget
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the budget President Obama delivered to Congress today restores responsibility and makes critical investments in the future of the country. The President’s budget will cut taxes for 4.8 million families across the state; give $1.2 billion for Illinois schools, students and teachers; and direct $4.5 billion to help families pay for college.
“We’ve inherited a mess – the result of mistaken policies, misplaced priorities and an era of profound irresponsibility,” Durbin said. “This irresponsibility ends right now. The President’s budget is up-front and honest about the challenges we face and makes the tough choices necessary to get our country back on track.”
The budget cuts taxes for the Middle Class and restores balance to our tax system. The budget makes permanent tax cuts for 95 percent of America’s working families while preserving all dedicated payroll taxes that go to Social Security and Medicare. It ensures no tax increases for families making less than $250,000 a year and continues to cut taxes for families with children through an expansion and continuation of the Child Tax Credit.
President Obama’s budget cuts the deficit by at least half by the end of his first term. The president inherited a deficit of $1.3 trillion. This budget cuts that deficit down to $533 billion by January, 2013.
Accountability and transparency are made priorities again by returning to pay-as-you-go budgeting and by streamlining government procurement. The budget let’s Americans track how their tax dollars are spent online to ensure they are being spent wisely.
The President’s budget ends budgeting gimmicks and provides an honest assessment of our fiscal situation. For the first time since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, the budget includes the full cost of those wars. The budget assumes the full cost of fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) each year and budgets for the likelihood of natural disasters. Previous budgets have hidden these costs or excluded them all together, adding directly to the federal deficit.
Investing in the Future
“The President’s budget makes important investments in our economic future,” Durbin said. “It makes critical investments in our state’s infrastructure; reduces our dependence on foreign oil and promotes renewable energies; addresses the crushing costs of health care and improves education ensure our students can compete in the 21st Century economy.”
Energy, Science and the Environment
The President’s budget promotes renewable energies and reduces our dependence on foreign oil by working to develop an economy-wide, market-friendly emissions reduction program to beginning in 2012 that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to reach levels of approximately 14 percent below 2005 emissions by 2020 and approximately 83 percent below 2005 emission by 2050.
The budget will make the United States the world leader on clean energy by establishing a New Energy Innovation Fund to drive the creation of an energy-efficient housing market – including the retro-fitting of older, inefficient housing – and act as a catalyst for private lending for this purpose in the residential sector.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Last year, the Blue-Green Action Alliance, a public policy partnership of the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, and Environment Illinois released a report projecting detailing thousands of new green jobs that could be created by manufacturing the components for wind turbines, solar panels, and other renewable energy equipment. The study found that Illinois could benefit from more than 55,000 new jobs — including 30,000 from wind turbine manufacturing and 19,000 in solar manufacturing.
The budget also supports loan guarantees for innovative energy technologies including renewable energy projects, transmission projects and carbon sequestration projects that avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants and green house gases while simultaneously creating green jobs and contributing to long-term economic growth and international competitiveness.
The President’s budget invests in critical science programs at our nation’s premier laboratories by increasing funding for scientific research. Adequate funding for the labs is critical to ensure that our country maintains its technological edge and that we continue to add to our high-tech manufacturing base. Overall the Department of Energy’s Office of Science funding would increase to $4,942 million. In particular, the budget for High-Energy Physics would increase to $819 million. In addition, this budget would increase funding for the National Science Foundation to $7 billion.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Illinois’ Fermilab – the nation’s premier high-energy physics laboratory – would see an increase in funding to $402 million. Fermilab employs roughly 1,900 people including about 900 physicists, engineers and computer professionals. Illinois’ Argonne National Laboratory – one of the U.S. Department of Energy's largest research centers – would see their lab funded at $425 million. Argonne employs roughly 2,900 people, including about 1,000 scientists and engineers.
The President’s budget commits to the restoration of the Great Lakes by requesting $475 million for the Administration's new Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. EPA will lead this interagency effort that will target resources to the most pressing environmental issues in the Great Lakes, such as aquatic invasive species, contaminated sediment, and nonpoint source pollution. To guide these efforts, EPA and its Federal partners will use performance measures to track progress and ensure the initiative results in improved environmental outcomes.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: The Great Lakes account for 95 percent of the surface freshwater in the U.S. and provide drinking water for more than 30 million Americans, including the entire Chicago-metropolitan region. The Lake Michigan shoreline is among the crown jewels of Chicago -- central to our Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The budget makes an unprecedented $635 billion down payment on health care reform. This deficit-neutral reserve fund will be used to pay for a substantial part of a health care reform that will bring down costs, boost quality, expand coverage, preserve the ability to choose your doctor and put our nation on a fiscally sustainable path.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Currently, 1.8 million Illinoisans are uninsured and rising health care costs take more than $9,300 a year from the paychecks of Illinois residents. Nearly one million families in Illinois have at least one uninsured family member, including 360,000 families making above $50,000. Since 2000, Illinois community health centers have more than doubled the number of patients—from over 400,000 to 1.1 million today—a 150% increase.
President Obama’s budget will reduce costs, improve benefits and expand coverage by reducing Medicare overpayments to private insurers and improving Medicare and Medicaid payment accuracy. The budget will also reduce drug prices by accelerating access to more affordable generic versions of biologic drugs.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Illinois currently has over 1.4 million individuals enrolled in Medicare, including 720,000 living below 200% of poverty. Curbing overpayments to private Medicare plans would help finance comprehensive health reform that achieves universal coverage and enhance existing subsidy programs to help Medicare beneficiaries with their out-of-pocket medical costs. Currently, over 345,000 Illinoisans are enrolled in the Low-Income Subsidy program within Medicare Part D, which helps cover the premiums and cost-sharing associated with Medicare prescription drugs.
The budget expands access to quality education by making new investments in early childhood education. It provides a $122 million increase in Head Start funding, allowing the program to reach nearly 1 million children nationwide. The budget also includes $300 million for an Early Learning Challenge Fund to help states create comprehensive zero-to-five early education systems.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Over 17,000 children at risk of academic failure are currently on the waitlist for Illinois's prekindergarten program. The President's budget would help place these children in high-quality early childhood programs so that they enter school ready to learn.
The President’s budget makes college more affordable by expanding Pell Grants and put the program on sure footing. Across the country, a college degree is fast becoming too expensive for middle-class families. In the past 25 years, tuition, fees and room-and-board costs have jumped by 107 percent. But financial assistance hasn’t kept pace. In fact, college students in Illinois graduate with an average of almost $20,000 in student loan debt.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Under the President’s budget, an estimated 20,000 Illinois residents will benefit from an increase in the maximum Pell Grant for college students for the next school year to $5,500. Illinois will receive $4.5 billion in new funding for Pell Grants to help families pay for college between now and 2019.
The budget increases the focus on college completion with the goal of regaining our position as the world’s leader production college graduates. The President proposes a new 5-year, $2.5 billion Access and Completion Incentive Fund to support innovative efforts to help low-income students succeed and complete their college education.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Only 40% of students who attend public universities in Illinois earn a college degree in 4 years and only 60% within 6 years. To meet his goal of America having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020, the President will create new incentives in his budget for colleges to focus on student completion.
The budget expands science education by tripling the number of graduate fellowships in science, to help spur the next generation of home-grown scientific innovation. Durbin has been a leading Congressional proponent of science and math education. In 2005, Durbin helped found the bipartisan Senate caucus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education and has worked to increase federal funding for science and math education efforts.
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