Saying it's time to live within our means President Obama has sent to Congress his budget for 2011. The proposal includes a freeze in government spending for three years and new tax cuts for people who invest in small businesses, tax credits for small businesses that hire new workers, investments that will create jobs repairing roads and bridges, and tax breaks for retrofitting homes to save energy. It also builds on what the Administration calls the largest investment in clean energy in history, through investment in scientific research.
The budget proposal also includes the bipartisan fiscal commission: a panel of Democrats and Republicans who would hammer out concrete deficit reduction proposals over the medium and long term, but would come up with those answers by a certain deadline. The plan has already been voted down in the Senate, but President Obama says he hopes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the Minority Leader in the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, fully embrace what has been a bipartisan idea to get our arms around this budget.
The President is looking for cuts in spending, looking for inefficiency, duplication, and programs that have outlived their usefulness. The President points out that $17 billion in cuts were found last year and already $20 billion has been found this year. The President is asking Republicans and Democrats alike to take a fresh look at programs they've supported in the past to see what's working and what's not, and trim back accordingly.
Senator Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, pledges to stand up for farmers and ranchers and all of rural America by opposing cuts that will harm the hard-working men and women who are the backbone of our rural economy. According to Lincoln this proposal places a disproportionate burden on the backs of farmers and rural communities. While she believes the federal deficit must be reduced, she says all must share in this responsibility.
The Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee, Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., says he is concerned regarding the level the budget cuts to existing operations in order to fund pet initiatives and programs.
"Before we do that, we need to examine where resources are truly needed," Chambliss said. "We can produce a budget that mirrors what Americans have to struggle with every day."
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the proposed FY 2011 budget is a reflection of reality, essentially freezing funding for discretionary programs at the FY 2010 level. According to the Secretary, limits placed on select programs and efforts to eliminate earmarks and one-time funding actually result in a bottom line reduction to discretionary budget authority of over $1 billion.
"This budget will assist rural communities create prosperity so they are self-sustaining, economically thriving, and growing in population," Vilsack said. "We will promote the production of food, feed, fiber, and fuel, as well as increased exports of food and agricultural products, as we work to strengthen the agricultural economy for farmers and ranchers."
Vilsack went on to say that the budget reflects common sense solutions to the problems and makes critical investments in the American people and in the agricultural economy to set us on a path to prosperity as we move forward in the 21st century.