President Obama will submit his budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 on Monday, February 14, one week later than the legal requirement. Obama said the delay was necessary because of the delay in confirming Jacob Lew, the new director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The delay in the budget is not unprecedented and the budget is frequently late when there is a transition from one president to the next.
In a February 7 op-ed in the New York Times, Lew warned that the “easy” cuts have already been made. “As the president said in his State of the Union address, now that the country is back from the brink of a potential economic collapse, our goal is to win the future by out-educating, out-building, and out-innovating our rivals so that we can return to robust economic and job growth,” Lew wrote. “But to make room for the investments we need to foster growth, we have to cut what we cannot afford. We have to reduce the burden placed on our economy by years of deficits and debt.”
During his State of the Union address, Obama proposed to freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years, a move that he said would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade and “bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.”
In his op-ed, Lew said that the president’s FY 2011 budget proposal would cut the Community Service Block Grant program by $350 million, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by $125 million, and the Community Development Block Grant program by $300 million. “These three examples alone, of course, represent only a small fraction of the scores of cuts the president had to choose, but they reflect the tough calls he had to make,” Lew wrote.
It is unclear how the president’s proposed freeze in domestic spending will affect the U.S. Department of Education. In last year’s budget proposal, Obama proposed a three-year overall freeze in nonsecurity spending, but still provided an increase for the U.S. Department of Education; it is unclear whether the president will use the same approach this year.