Durbin: President Obama's Budget Restores Responsibility and Invests in the Future
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the budget President Obama delivered to Congress today is an important break past policies and responsibly invests in the future of the country.
“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 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.
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.
Investing in the Future
“The President’s budget makes important investments in our economic future,” Durbin said. “It 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. These investments will ensure that we can compete in a 21st century economy.”
The President’s budget promotes renewable energies and reduces our dependence on foreign oil by working to implement a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate revenue of $150 billion over 10 years that will go to develop clean energy technologies, industries, and jobs.
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 will slash the federal government’s energy use by work to modernize federal buildings. These modernizations could cut the government’s energy consumption by 25 percent, and adds to the $4.5 billion provided in the Recovery Act to achieve the President’s energy efficiency improvement goal by 2013.
This budget will cut working families energy costs by weatherizing low-income homes, saving families on average $350 per year.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: In 2006 (the most recent year for which data was available) about $14 million was spent to help weatherize more than 11,000 low-income homes in Illinois.
The budget transforms and modernizes our health care system by setting aside a reserve fund of more than $630 billion over 10 years that will be dedicated towards financing reforms. Those funds will come from cutting waste, realizing efficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid and changing some upper-income taxes.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Currently, 1.8 million Illinoisans are without health insurance. 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 1.3 million individuals enrolled in Medicare, including 315,000 living below 150% 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 335,000 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 doubles funding for the Early Head Start program, expanding Head Start nationwide.
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. It further indexes the grants to the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent in order to account for inflation.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: College students in Illinois graduate with an average of almost $20,000 in student loan debt. The President's budget expands federal student aid and reforms the student loan system so that it works for students, not lenders.
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.
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