Obama’s budget seeks unity among Democrats

Elections reduce odds of adoption

WASHINGTON — Striving for unity among Democrats rather than compromise with Republicans, President Obama will unveil an election-year budget on Tuesday that drops an earlier proposal to limit increases in Social Security benefits and that seeks new money for infrastructure, education, and job training.

But Obama’s almost $4 trillion budget plan is likely to have a short shelf life. It comes just three months after Congress and the White House agreed to a two-year, bipartisan budget pact that has already set the parameters for this election year’s budget work.

Democrats controlling the Senate have already said they won’t advance a budget this year and will instead skip ahead to the annual appropriations bills for 2015, relying on new spending ‘‘caps’’ set by December’s budget deal that provide $56 billion less than what Obama wants in 2015.


Obama would divide the extra money equally between the Pentagon and domestic initiatives such as boosting manufacturing hubs, job training, and preschool programs and cutting energy waste. Republicans are likely to balk at the idea, which would be funded by curbing special interest tax breaks and making spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

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Obama has also announced a four-year, $302 billion plan to boost spending on highways, rail projects, and mass transit.

Half of the initiative would be financed through corporate taxes. Funding for highway and mass transit projects expires at the end of September, and there’s bipartisan interest in finding a supplemental funding stream to augment stagnant revenues from the $18.4 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax.

Obama’s budget arrives after a tumultuous year that began with the president muscling through a 10-year $600 billion-plus tax increase on upper-bracket earners. Feeling stung, Republicans refused to yield on about $80 billion in automatic spending cuts that began in March.

Then, conservatives in the GOP forced a 16-day partial government shutdown over funding to implement the nation’s new health insurance program. The small-bore, two-year budget deal struck by Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, and Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, emerged from the wreckage to alleviate the toughest automatic cuts.


With no design or expectation of luring Republicans into more budget negotiations in this election year, Obama’s blueprint presents his vision for boosting job growth and favored initiatives like education. The White House said earlier Obama was dropping a plan opposed by most Democrats in his budget proposal a year ago to slow Social Security cost of living increases.

The budget also will flesh out a plan Obama revealed in his State of the Union address to expand the earned income tax credit for childless workers.

‘‘This year the administration is returning to a more traditional budget presentation that is focused on achieving the president’s vision for the best path to create growth and opportunity for all Americans, and the investments needed to meet that vision,’’ the White House said last month.

Republicans are sure to brush aside most of Obama’s initiatives. Ryan released a report Monday criticizing many federal antipoverty programs, saying they should be redesigned to better help the poor escape poverty. It found that many poor people have little incentive to find work or work more because higher incomes mean lower benefits.