President Obama rolled out his budget plan for 2013, drawing a campaign-year battle line between his populist priorities and Republican opponents, who argue that increasing taxes on the wealthy will stifle job growth and opportunity.
Obama’s budget calls for new spending on roads and other infrastructure projects. And taxpayers earning more than $250,000 a year would foot the bill with higher taxes.
Obama, who is still vulnerable on the weak economy, is calling for deferring major deficit cuts until the recovery is firmly on track:
“By reducing our deficit in the long term, what that allows us to do is to invest in the things that will help grow our economy right now. We can’t cut back on those things that are important for us to grow. We can’t just cut our way into growth. We can cut back on the things that we don’t need, but we also have to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share for the things that we do need. “
Republicans, like Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, are already firing back against the budget priorities in an attempt to paint Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal:
“I think all of us who come here are shocked by the lack of fiscal discipline here, but truly, this budget makes a mockery of the American people.”
The budget outlines more than $350 billion in short-term job growth steps, incorporating many of the President’s ideas floated in his September job creation plan.
Among them is $476 billion in spending to improve roads, rails and airport runways over six years.
The President said much of that would be paid for by fees and savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another $60 billion would be used to modernize schools, boost construction jobs, and help states hire teachers and first responders.
The Economic Policy Institute’s Ethan Pollock says the plan could create a half a million jobs, not only in construction, but in sectors such as retail and manufacturing:
“If you think about the suppliers – because construction workers don’t just work in their shirts on their backs – they need hammers and jackhammers and Caterpillars, all this additional equipment suddenly creates more jobs.”
The budget proposes raising $1.5 trillion over a decade through higher taxes, with about half of that coming from the tax breaks for families earning more than $250,000 a year expiring at the end of this year.