The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Obama to propose spending $74B more in 2016 than mandatory spending cuts

President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)
Placeholder while article actions load

President Obama on Thursday will seek to rally Democrats behind a budget proposal he'll release next week that would spend $74 billion more in discretionary investments than would be allowed under the spending caps mandated by Congress four years ago in an attempt to reduce the federal deficit, according to White House officials.

The proposal, a 7 percent increase over sequestration levels, includes $530 billion on the non-defense discretionary side, an increase of $37 billion over the spending caps; and $561 billion in defense spending, an increase of $38 billion over the spending caps.

The plan prompted an immediate outcry from Republicans.

"He is the most liberal, fiscally irresponsible president we've had in history," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in an interview. "I don't know why he doesn't see it."

Obama will preview his plans in remarks to House Democrats at their retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday.

The president's budget proposal "will fully reverse those cuts for domestic priorities, and match those investments dollar-for-dollar with the resources our troops need to keep America safe," said the administration official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

Congress established the sequester through the Budget Control Act in 2011, mandating spending cuts that were projected to total $1.2 trillion and were scheduled to begin in 2013 and end in 2021, evenly divided over the nine-year period.

Obama's push to exceed the spending caps is already sparking a fight with Republicans, who have criticized him for attempting to grow the government at a time when wages have stagnated, limiting the benefits of the economic recovery.

“Republicans believe there are smarter ways to cut spending than the sequester and have passed legislation to replace it multiple times, only to see the president continue to demand tax hikes," said Cory Fritz, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner. "Until he gets serious about solving our long-term spending problem, it’s hard to take him seriously."

In his address to fellow Democrats, Obama also plans to emphasize the need for Congress to pass a measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security beyond Feb. 27, when the agency's funds are set to expire. House Republicans are attempting to use that deadline to force Obama to accept a rollback of his executive actions on immigration announced in November.