The defense portion of a summary of President Obama's proposed 2011 budget said that no major weapons cancellations are planned and that the budget is likely to win support from the defense industry. The budget does target some significant weapons programs; it seeks to end production of the C-17 cargo plane and end development of an alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter plane, or F-35. Those proposals are not considered likely to jeopardize the defense industry's overall support of the spending plan.
How Obama's budget would affect each agency
The Pentagon would get a 3.4 percent boost to its regular discretionary budget, plus extra money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Obama administration's spending plans for 2011. President Obama is requesting a total of $708 billion for the Defense Department next year: $549 billion for its base budget and $159 billion for "overseas contingencies operations," namely the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Separately, the White House is asking Congress for an extra $33 billion in a supplemental 2010 request to pay for sending 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan this year. In contrast with last year -- when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates eliminated or curtailed several expensive conventional weapons programs, including the F-22 fighter jet -- the new budget includes no major weapons cancellations and is likely to win support from the defense industry. Obama has exempted national security programs from a three-year freeze he is seeking to impose on federal discretionary spending.
The Energy Department's total budget would rise 7.8 percent under the president's plan, to $31.2 billion. The department would receive more money to spend on managing the nation's nuclear stockpile and naval reactors, as well as on basic science and energy research, both favorite areas of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Obama's budget request would double the Energy Department's ability to guarantee loans for the construction of new nuclear plants, providing an additional $36 billion. Such guarantees would sharply reduce the financing cost of nuclear plants, which are expensive to build, and proponents hope they would help jump-start an additional half a dozen nuclear power plants. The administration has also proposed $500 million in credit subsidies to support loan guarantees for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects. The budget would eliminate funding, however, for the long-discussed nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nev. The budget proposal says that Yucca "is not a workable option." The Energy Department would also continue to spend money authorized by the 2009 stimulus bill, thus raising its actual outlays substantially.
The Food and Drug Administration would see a 6 percent jump in its total budget, to $2.5 billion. The agency also expects to bring in an additional $1.5 billion through user fees from food, tobacco and drug industries. Bolstered by those combined funds, the agency plans to hire 1,251 more full-time employees (a 10 percent boost in its workforce). Many of those workers, and another large chunk of the new money, would be dedicated to ensuring food safety, which Obama has flagged as a priority. The FDA is reorganizing the way it monitors the production of food, with plans to step up inspections of domestic and foreign food suppliers, expand its laboratory capacity, and improve its ability to trace the source of an outbreak of food illness, among other things. Some say the budget is overly optimistic because it depends on $250 million in user fees that Congress has not approved. (The fees are part of a bill that was passed by the House last year but is apparently stalled in the Senate.) The agency says it will also use the additional money to approve more generic drugs and pharmaceuticals, improve the safety surveillance of medical devices, and make that data more widely available to physicians, the public and researchers. FDA officials say they need new resources to be able to scrutinize and set standards for drugs and medical devices that spring from nanotechnology and other modern scientific advancements.
Health & Human Services
Last year, Obama used his budget to lay the groundwork for comprehensive health-care reform, proposing a 10-year $634 billion reserve fund as a "down payment" on universal coverage. This year's blueprint does not include that money, though administration sources said the overall federal budget assumes that a bill will be enacted and result in deficit reduction of $150 billion over the next decade. The $900 billion total budget for the Department of Health and Human Services envisions a few minor changes: a $1 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health, $1.6 billion more for child care and an additional $290 million for community health centers. Most of the budget goes to one mandatory program, Medicare for the elderly and disabled, which is expected to cost $489 billion next year, after recouping an anticipated $722 million in waste, fraud and abuse. States would receive $290 billion for another mandatory health program, Medicaid for the poor. Obama is proposing to continue increased spending on health information technology and comparative effectiveness research. The pandemic flu program will be funded with money from last year's economic stimulus act.