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Action Alert

The 2013 Federal Budget: A Presidential Proposal

President Barack Obama released his 2013 federal budget proposal on February 13, 2012, requesting $3.8 trillion in spending. The proposal increases spending on infrastructure, education and manufacturing while raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting funding to most other domestic agencies and the Department of Defense. The president included much of the language from his State of the Union Address in the budget proposal, and many see the document as a platform for his reelection.

The projected 2013 deficit is $901 billion, down from 2012’s projected deficit of $1.33 trillion. These predictions indicate that the president will not meet his 2009 promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. The president’s proposal falls within the limits set in the Budget Control Act approved by Congress in summer 2011, which will cut discretionary spending by approximately $1 trillion over a decade. The budget proposal predicts $4 trillion in deficit reductions by 2022.

Senate Budget Committee Republicans, however, estimate that the budget accounts to only $300 billion in real deficit reduction over the next decade. This estimate offsets the budget’s inclusion of cuts that were already scheduled as well as the projected “savings” of nearly $1 trillion from winding down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Republicans’ figure is also based on the claim that the budget does not pay for $522 billion in Medicare physician reimbursement costs—costs that a White House official says are included in the deficit projections.

Budget Process

The president’s budget proposal is the first step in the federal budget process. The process, although straightforward on paper, is convoluted in politics. It starts with the president’s budget request, which is taken into consideration as the House and Senate craft their own budget resolutions (which do not need presidential signature). After the budgets are passed, reconciled, and the reconciled resolutions are passed again, each committee with appropriations authority receives what is known as a 302(a) allocation, the amount of money they are allowed to appropriate in a given year. The committees then assign their subcommittees 302(b) allocations out of that pot. This process must be completed by April 15.

In the past two years Congress has not passed a budget. While the House has passed a budget, the Senate has not, in part because Republicans compose a larger portion of the House than Democrats do the Senate, and Senate rules make it harder for the majority party to pass legislation with an uncooperative opposition party.

The fiscal year 2013 budget process will be significantly different from previous years, as the Budget Control Act already has 302(a) allocations, making a budget resolution optional. It is unlikely an optional 2013 budget will be passed by a divided Congress during an election year. The budgets submitted by the president, House and Senate this year function more as policy platforms than passable legislation.

BUDGET PROCESS 2012-2013

Traditional Date

Expected Date

Action

January 31

January 31

President submits budget to Congress.

March

March

Congressional Budget Office issues its
economic forecast and score of the
president’s request.

April 1

April

House and Senate budget committees
submit their budgets to the floor.

April 15

Not
expected

House and Senate pass budgets. After
reconciliation, appropriations
committees set their spending limits.

After May 1

Not
expected

Appropriations committees submit
appropriations bills for passage.

August

August

Congressional Budget Office issues its
second economic forecast of the year.

Action

  • Send a message to your members of Congress urging strong support for a budget that protects children and families. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or contact your district office.
  • Read Resolution 2028, “Putting Children and Their Families First,” in The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church, 2008, pp. 123-128.
Last Updated: 04/09/2014
 
 

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