Short overview of President Bush's budget plan

Feb 28, 2001 01:00 AM

A look at how President Bush 's proposed budget for fiscal 2002 allocates spending for various needs: Hoping to boost fathers, President Bush picks up on an idea that's been circulating in Congress for some time: Grants to help low-income dads find jobs and become better parents.
He proposes $ 64 mm for new competitive grants and he wants to make churches and other religious groups eligible to participate. For foster children who turn 18 and age out of the system, Bush wants $ 60 mm for education and training vouchers that would help pay for college tuition or vocational training. Each voucher would be worth up to $ 5,000.
Bush is seeking increased money for states to investigate child abuse and neglect, to help keep some families together and to find placements for children who must be removed from their biological parents. Bush proposes $ 505 mm for the program for 2002, a $ 200 mm increase from this year.
To encourage adoption, Bush wants to make the existing adoption tax credit permanent and increase it from $ 5,000 to $ 7,500. The president proposes $ 400 mm in new money for vouchers that would pay for after-school programs as part of the child care and development block grant. He also wants $ 33 mm for maternity group homes, which would house teen moms and their children.

Bush proposed requiring commercial television stations to pay fees on their existing analogue TV channels -- a plan that would raise nearly $ 1 bn over five years. Broadcasters have been given a second TV channel to convert to higher-quality digital television. They are supposed to return their analogue channels to the government in 2006 or when digital television reaches 85 % of the market, whichever comes later.
A proposed fee for analogue channels has been included in Clinton administration budgets but has not been enacted. Lawmakers, at the urging of broadcasters, have generally opposed imposing new fees on broadcasters. The president's proposal also anticipates that the government will take in $ 7.5 bn over the next five years from auctions of slices of the airwaves. This likely will include auctions for the analogue channels that broadcasters return to the government. Wireless companies are eager to bid on these frequencies to offer new mobile services.
Only $ 400 mm of the $ 1.4 bn in military pay increases proposed by Bush would be for across-the-board raises. The rest would be earmarked as incentives to recruit and keep certain military specialists. The defence budget would total $ 310 bn, an increase of $ 14.2 bn over the current budget and exactly the amount President Clinton proposed for the coming year.

Bush set out few specifics, saying these would be determined after Secretary of Defence Donald H. Rumsfeld completes reviews in three areas:
National security strategy, offensive nuclear weapons and missile defences, and overall quality of life for troops.
Bush proposed spending $ 2.6 bn on research and development of "leap ahead" technologies for weapons and intelligence and thetesting of a missile defence program. He also proposed earmarking $ 3.9 bn for expanding health benefits mandated by Congress last year, pl$ 400 mm to improve housing.
Bush proposes $ 44.5 bn for the Department of Education, an 11.5 % increase. That includes $ 2.6 bn for states to improve teacher quality through training, retention efforts and "aggressive recruitment." Under Bush's budget, the federal government would allow states more flexibility to direct funds to priority programs. The federal government would also provide seed money to assist charter schools with start-up costs and other needs. It would let families earn tax-free interest on savings accounts of up to $ 5,000 per child each year to pay the costs of private school.
The budget includes $ 5 bn over five years for programs to help every child learn to read by third grade. Bush also proposes an additional $ 1 bn for federal Pell grants to low-income college students. Last year, the federal government provided $ 8.8 bn for the program.

The budget provides $ 19 bn for the Energy Department, a decline of 3 %, including a sharp cut for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. Money for efficiency technology and renewable energy sources such as solar and fuel cell technology would drop from $ 1.2 bn to about $ 900 mm. The budget calls for tax credits for private-sector development of renewable sources.
The proposal expands spending on clean-coal technology, anticipating a $ 2 bn program over 10 years, and would provide more money for low-income families to pay energy costs and weatherise their homes. The department's spending for maintaining the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile would increase to $ 5.3 bn, a boost of 5 %.
For the first time the budget would rely on future revenue from oil leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The budget assumes $ 1.2 bn a year beginning in 2004 from oil lease sales in the refuge, although Congress currently prohibits any such sales.
Bush proposed $ 900 mm for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the full amount it is authorized to get each year. That money comes mainly from oil and gas drilling. His also would spend $ 4.9 bn over five years for the National Park Service's deferred maintenance backlog, with $ 2.7 bn of that for roads, bridges and transportation projects and $ 2.2 bn for building maintenance and construction.
Bush also hopes to accelerate the cleanup of abandoned toxic waste sites, known as "brown fields," through tax incentives and regulatory reform. Overall, his budget would provide $ 9.8 bn to the Interior Department, 0.4 % less than the $ 10.2 bn this year. It also would give $ 7.3 bn to the Environmental Protection Agency, down from $ 7.8 bn this year.

The president promises a review of Medicaid, which serves the poorest Americans, and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which serves children in low-income families. The review will look for ways to give states more flexibility, though the administration is not proposing any new money. He promises to work on closing a Medicaid loophole that has allowed states to collect billions of dollars in federal money for hospitals and nursing homes without any assurances that the money was being used for its intended purpose.
Bush wants to eliminate the $ 125 mm Community Access Program, a Clinton administration initiative to help integrate the health care delivery system. Under the Medicare budget, the president proposes to help subsidize drug costs for seniors and the disabled with $ 153 bn over the next 10 years, plus an initial $ 3 bn for fiscal year 2001.
This spending includes a temporary, four-year program to help states subsidize medicines for people with the lowest incomes or the highest expenses. The grants would last until Congress overhauls Medicare to expand drug insurance benefits to all recipients and make sure the program can handle the 77 mm baby boomers expected to begin their retirements in a decade.
Total spending for the bulk of Health and Human Services Department programs -- aside from Medicare and Medicaid, whose funds mostly rise automatically -- would be $ 55.45 bn in fiscal 2002. That's an increase of $ 2.7 bn over this year. With a slated $ 2.8 bn increase for the National Institutes of Health, that means that all other programs as a group in the department will see slightly less money than they did this year.

Bush proposed expanding a program to help people with AIDS find homes and building more technology centres in poor neighbourhoods. At the same time, a program that Bush said has failed to keep drugs out of housing projects would be eliminated, as would a 2-year-old rural housing initiative.
Bush also called for a $ 700 mm cut in a public housing program, which he said would be made up for with funds that have been authorized but not spent. The National Low Income Housing Coalition said Bush appeared to be cutting spending on housing for the poor to help pay for his tax-cut plan.
Cities would compete for the new technology centres. The AIDS housing expansion would be in areas that haven't had enough AIDS cases to qualify in the past. Bush said money that has been spent on eliminating drugs in public housing should be spent on other efforts, like evictions, which have been more successful.
The Rural Housing and Economic Development Program, which would be abolished, duplicates other options for people in small communities, the president said. The plan also proposed changes to help poor families in high-rent cities. Fees for some Federal Housing Administration programs would be increased, in areas like condominium and rehabilitation loans.

For international affairs, the administration requested $ 23.1 bn in budget authority, a $ 1.2 bn increase. That includes $ 1.3 bn for embassy construction and enhancement of embassy security. It also contemplates an expansion of -- without a specific figure - the $ 1.3 bn counter narcotics and social development program for Colombia and an expansion of drug eradication and interdiction for other Andean countries.
The request seeks an increase for information technology. More resources are being sought for combating HIV /AIDS and for improving primary education in developing countries.

Source: AP
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