Obama Proposes Sweeping Change Through the Budget

President Barack Obama yesterday presented a budget blueprint for the next fiscal year, with change coming in many different areas. Obama’s budget will likely set off a pitched battle about the priorities he has chosen to fund in his budget, as well as tax changes proposed. From the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama delivered a $3.6 trillion budget blueprint to Congress Thursday that aims to “break from a troubled past,” with expanded government activism, tax increases on affluent families and businesses, and spending cuts targeted at those he says profited from “an era of profound irresponsibility.”

The budget blueprint for fiscal year 2010 is one of the most ambitious policy prescriptions in decades, a reordering of the federal government to provide national health care, shift the energy economy away from oil and gas, and boost the federal commitment to education.

One war would end, as troops leave Iraq, while another would ramp up in Afghanistan. To fund it all, families earning over $250,000 and a variety of businesses will pay a steep price, but Mr. Obama implored Americans to own up to the mistakes of the past while accepting profound sacrifices.

“We need to be honest with ourselves about what costs are being racked up, because that’s how we’ll come to grips with the hard choices that lie ahead,” Mr. Obama said Thursday morning. “And there are some hard choices that lie ahead.”

President Obama has made some politically difficult calls, including a first step to funding health care reform, investments in education, a carbon cap and purchase system, cuts to agricultural subsidies, a call for higher taxes on those earning $250,000 or better, and a slew of other public policy choices that will make many politically uncomfortable. The call to battle by the perceived losers in this battle is just begining.

To finance his proposals, the president has clearly chosen winners and losers — with the affluent heading the list of losers. In populist tones that reflect an anger he notably avoided on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama wrote, “Prudent investments in education, clean energy, health care, and infrastructure were sacrificed for huge tax cuts for the wealthy and well-connected. In the face of these trade-offs, Washington has ignored the squeeze on middle-class families that is making it harder for them to get ahead… There’s nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few.”

In that sense, the budget is payback. As expected, taxes will rise for singles earning $200,000 and couples earning $250,000, beginning in 2011 — for a total windfall of $656 billion over 10 years. Income tax hikes would raise $339 billion alone. Limits on personal exemptions and itemized deductions would bring in another $180 billion. Higher capital gains rates would bring in $118 billion. The estate tax, scheduled to be repealed next year, would instead be preserved, with the value of estates over $3.5 million — $7 million for couples — taxed at 45%.

This is quite a change from the Bush years, and frankly from the Clinton years as well. He is addressing some of the core issues facing the country, and actually saying that some changes need to be made in the way we pay for government. The political battle over this will make the stimulus debate seem like a love fest. I have attached the blueprint, as well as the President’s message at the bottom of this post.



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11 Responses to Obama Proposes Sweeping Change Through the Budget

  1. Fred Mertz says:

    Mr. Mayor:

    And, of course, the “liberal” media is out there, doing their job. You may ask what job, and what a “liberal” media might look like, but here you have it …


    I’ve heard more than once that Washington is still wired for Republicans … I guess I should wait for the wiring to adjust to power, as it always does.



  2. Fred Mertz says:

    Progressive folks:

    Completely off topic, but I just finished what was supposed to be a humorous look at the working poor and why they vote Republican (clearly against their own economic self interests), but I actually found it quite sobering. Things I had suspected for quite a while got some confirmation. All in all, we’ve got a long way to go to reach these people.

    Methuen library can get it for you, too.


    PS. The guy writes a very humorous, dark and depressing, R-rated website (google his name, you’ll find it). His friends call him a socialist, too, so even our right honorable friend might get a kick out of it. Pour yourself two fingers of Jack Daniels before entering.



  3. Jules Gordon says:


    On the other hand 54% of wealthy people voted for Barack Obama even knowing he planned to raise taxes on the wealthy.



  4. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    This is a disaster. Putting aside the tax burden this guy is going to unload on us, he is attempting to change the nature of our country. He is growing an Albatross. I admit, he can’t be stopped. He owns the government.

    I see disaster ahead. Discussing details will end up as a he-said, she-said game of give and take. Just going to watch the train wreck.

    Jim and Fred can gloat all they want. They won.



  5. Fred Mertz says:


    “he is attempting to change the nature of our country.”

    I am very, very glad you and I see the same thing. And I’m not gloating (much). It’s more that what was once a very dark veil is now just a little brighter. The first step of any twelve-step program is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

    One down, eleven to go.



  6. Jules Gordon says:


    I assume the dark veil you refer too is the previous 8 years and the President is now making things better.

    I, on the other hand, see a drive to socialism with heavy taxation. He is quite powerful with the democratic senators and representatives solidly in his tent. I still see disaster.

    Have you received you stimulus cash?



  7. Fred Mertz says:


    You’ve gotta pay your bills some time. You see more taxes, so do I. Maybe if we didn’t run around the world trying to maintain the Empire, the bill would be smaller. We’ve got 28 years of tax cutting and increased spending (only slightly interrupted by Clinton) to pay down.

    I know you know this, because you’re a member of the party of Personal Responsibility! 😉

    I’m not waiting for my government cheese, at least not yet. We’ll see what the rest of the year brings. If the market continues to tank, I’ll have to start cutting back on my Dunkin Donuts.



  8. Jules Gordon says:

    WRONG! You got the whole thing backwards. The budget of the country or the state is designed not only to address problems, but as a vehicle to keep their jobs (suck up for votes).

    Case in point; Obama is going to give the unions many things as pay back for their support during the election. Why should the unions receive special protection when they only represent less than 17% of the working public?

    Unions bring in votes and cash.

    This is just one sample.

    If you keep thinking like you do you will be taxed until you scream and more. Remember that Prop 1 was voted down and sure enough we are going to paying more taxes to cover public transportations issues. Maybe if we had passed prop 1 (the General Court of Massachusetts would not implement it) we would have at least scared them. Instead, our message is “go ahead and tax us”…and they are.

    Have you received your stimulus check yet???



  9. Fred Mertz says:


    Which part do I have backwards?

    If you’re saying that politicians use money to curry favor, hey! Stop the Presses! That’s not too much of a shocker, and it’s been happening since the founding of the Republic (you’ve heard of Blackwater, KBR, and Halliburton, haven’t you?). You want to stop that, you’ve got to give your buddy McCain a call to see if he can partner up with Feingold for a second round …

    Why do you think unions are going to get a special slop, and why do you think I’d be surprised if they do? I think you may be missing the rest of the Working People that are being put out of work by the effects of capitalism and globalization. Class war has been fought and won. Game, set and match to the rich. Now, if the Dems can find what’s left of their private parts, maybe we the people can even things out just a bit, so that other 95% that’s taken the short end of the stick in an uncomfortable place for so long can have a shot.

    What do you think is going to happen when those poor dumb fools down South (you know, the ones with the firearms) finally figure out what’s happened to them, and who did it to them?

    Don’t worry. I’ll loan you a blue jacket. Lay low. And don’t speak. 😉

    Why do you think Prop 1, if passed, wouldn’t have been implemented?



  10. Jules Gordon says:

    You still don’t understand. The danger is not only curring favor, it’s voting to attract large voting blocks to cement his political job. Bailout GM, but not the hardware store down the street. GM has more votes. Screw the hardware-just a couple of guys. Is that equal justice? Another example; unions run adds and will get favors. I won’t. Will you?

    The other 80+% get bupkis by the Democratic party.

    There have been rich people all through history. Even during the old Soviet Union there were rich guys driving around in big cars. You will never get rid of that.

    The strength of our political system was that everyone had a shot and wealth. Nor a guarantee, but a shot.

    What is with this thing about fools down south? Do you hate them too? Geeze Fred what did they do to you?



  11. Fred Mertz says:


    Up is down, black is white, and the room spins wildly. How do you do it? If I played the intellectual Twister game that you do, I’d have pulled something by now!

    Now, letsee: which party curries favor with large political blocks: the rural poor, the fundamentalists, the rich white guys to cement their political jobs? And keeps the propaganda stream up on talk radio and Fox News?

    Oh, hell, never mind.

    We do agree on something here, though: for the past 30 or so years, the Democrats have become Republican Lite: they’ve forgotten their roots, supporting working people. They’ve taken their money from the same sources that the Republicans have. Most of ’em supported an unnecessary war with a country that had nothing to do with an attack on ours. They essentially stood by and watched while two elections were stolen under specious circumstances.

    Republicans have no allusions, though: what we are seeing is exactly who they want to be.
    A party that steals from the poor, and redistributes it to the rich. Remove any semblance of economic security from people who can least afford it, because they’ve learned from 20th century history that fearful people are easier to control. And lie, lie, lie, whatever it takes to get ‘er done.

    I’m not trying to get rid of rich people, not by a long shot. But when I was growing up, the average CEO made 20 times what the average worker did. It’s still that way in places like Japan. Today, in America, that figure is now more than 350 times that of the average worker (and I ain’t talkin’ bonuses yet) while the average American worker competes with $2/hour labor overseas.

    Democracy in America doesn’t survive with such inequality: exactly as you say, everyone should have a shot at wealth (or at least comfort). The deck is right now so stacked against it, however, you’d have to be willingly blind not to see it. Failures in education, erosion of community, uprooted jobs, declining wages, bubble economies. Your guys are priming the pump to replace democracy with a form of corporate fascism. That’s how I see it.

    I was a little harsh on my former Southern neighbors: but they seem to me to be practicing a special form of Stockholm Syndrome: they vote Republican because their churches tell them to, and they’re God fearing folk. And the Democrats, bless their clueless hearts, haven’t offered them much in the way of hope or a way up or out. Too easy or too profitable to ignore, I guess.

    But maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance to reverse this slow, slippery slide towards fascism. There’s a President who shows signs of understanding the nation’s social plight. There are left leaning PACs organized to remind Democrats who they used to be, and can be again.

    Maybe, just maybe.


    I was a little harsh on my former Southern friends:


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