Obama sends Congress record $4.1T 2017 spending plan

Andrew Taylor
Associated Press

Washington — President Barack Obama sent Congress his final budget on Tuesday, proposing to spend a record $4.1 trillion on a number of initiatives, from a new war on cancer to combating global warming to fighting growing threats from Islamic State militants.

The White House also proposed roughly doubling the budget for the defect-investigation office at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration from $23.4 million to more than $47 million to boost its effectiveness in quickly identifying defects and notifying consumers.

Automakers recalled a record 51.26 million vehicles in 2015. The tally is slightly above 2014’s record, which stood at 50.99 million vehicles after being adjusted downward.

Obama’s spending plan, for the budget year that begins Oct. 1, is facing heavy fire from Republicans who hope to capture the White House. The proposal has dim prospects of winning approval in a GOP-controlled Congress.

In all, Obama’s budget would increase taxes by $2.6 trillion over the coming decade, nearly double the $1.4 trillion in new taxes Obama sought and failed to achieve in last year’s budget.

In an election year, Obama’s budget is filled with ideas sure to appeal to Democrats: A “moonshot” initiative to cure cancer; increasing Pell Grants for college students from low-income backgrounds; renewed incentives for GOP-governed states to join the expanded Medicaid system established under the health care law, and incentives to boost individual retirement accounts.

“The budget that we are releasing today reflects my priorities and the priorities I believe will help advance security and prosperity for America for many years to come,” Obama said.

GOP lawmakers said Obama’s proposal to impose a $10-per-barrel tax on crude oil to bring in an additional $319 billion over the next decade had no chance of congressional approval. Obama’s budget would use that extra money to fund billions of dollars in alternative transportation programs as part of the president’s efforts to deal with global warming.

“President Obama will leave office having never proposed a budget that balances — ever. This isn’t even a budget so much as it is a progressive manual for growing the federal government at the expense of hardworking Americans,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

NHTSA’s budget increase follows a report last summer by the Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General, which said the auto safety regulator failed to carefully review safety issues, hold automakers accountable for safety lapses or carefully collect vehicle safety data.

The Obama administration’s budget request for the fiscal 2017 year also calls for $730 million for NHTSA to research and develop new safety technologies and programs.

The budget also incorporates the 10-year, $3.9 billion investment to accelerate development of autonomous cars announced last month by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx at the Detroit auto show.

Staff Writer Melissa Nann Burke contributed.